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IPL 2016 – GL vs KXIP: Finch, Bravo Lift Lions To Victorious Start

By on April 12, 2016

Gujarat Lions 162 for 5 (Finch 74, Karthik 41*) beat Kings XI Punjab 161 for 6 (Vijay 42, Vohra 38, Bravo 4-22) by five wickets…

Aaron Finch and Dwayne Bravo helped Gujarat Lions ease into the tournament with a thumping win against Kings XI Punjab in Mohali. Barring the first over, Lions were in total control in chase of 162; they won with 14 balls to spare on the back of Finch’s 47-ball 74.

Brendon McCullum, fresh off a whirlwind ton in his final Test, was stumped by Wriddhiman Saha, who was standing up to the stumps, in the first over of the chase. Sandeep Sharma, who anticipated a forward shimmy, bowled a superb outswinger to leave McCullum stranded. Finch and Suresh Raina then took the attack to the pacers by capitalizing on loose deliveries to drive the chase.

While Raina holed out to mid-on in the sixth over, Finch peppered the boundary with deft touch and exemplary placement, particularly behind square on the off side. He hit 12 boundaries.

IPL 2016 - GL vs KXIP: Aaron Finch

Credits: ESPN CricInfo

It needed a moment of brilliance from the Pardeep Sahu, the legspinner, to dismiss him. Finch was drawn forward, but was beaten in the air and off the pitch as Saha completed his second stumping. The rest of the chase was a mere formality as Dinesh Karthik accrued his runs with sweeps and punchy strokes to finish 41 not out.

Earlier, Kings XI were given an ideal start by their openers – M Vijay and Manan Vohra – who saw off the swinging new ball before getting stuck into their work. A blend of crisp drives and flicks earned the pair a fifty-run stand within the Powerplay. The spread field did not impede Vohra, as he manufactured boundaries courtesy swift footwork off the spinners.

However, momentum shifted rapidly when Ravindra Jadeja struck twice in consecutive overs to remove the openers. Dwayne Bravo undid Glenn Maxwell and David Miller in the space of three balls. The one that got Miller – the slow, dipping yorker – made Bravo the first bowler to pick up 300 T20 wickets.

Suddenly, debutant Marcus Stoinis and Wriddhiman Saha were left to rebuild a rollicking start. The pair were forced to use the large Mohali pockets to find their runs, but struggled. Much of that was down to the efficiency of the Lions bowlers, who executed their yorkers and slower balls well. Bravo took two more wickets off consecutive slower balls in the last over, and could have had his best T20 bowling figures had Sarabjit Ladda pouched a skier off the last ball.

Just two boundaries and 36 runs were scored off the last five overs as Kings XI mustered 161. Lions then rode momentum to consign Kings XI to their ninth loss in ten matches.

Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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