Dwayne Smith guides Gujarat Lions to 6 wicket win over Kings XI Punjab

Asked to chase 190, the Suresh Raina-led side won the game with 2 balls to spare.

Though out of contention for the IPL 2017 playoffs, Gujarat Lions halted their three-match losing streak to elevate themselves in the standings and be positioned at sixth. Kings XI Punjab suffered a crucial loss and now their chances of qualifying for the knockouts have become even tougher as the Glenn Maxwell-led team are still fifth in the standings with 10 points.

Gujarat win the toss and elect to bowl. Kings XI Punjab were boosted by a hundred from Hasim Amla which took their total to 189 for the loss of three. Amla scored his second century of the season, 104 off 59 balls, to help Kings XI recover from a slow start and posted an above par total. After being asked to bat first, the home team lost Martin Guptill in the first over and were 44 for the loss of one wicket after the powerplay. It was only Shaun Marsh and Amla who got a move on and shifted gears to lift the team to 127 for 1 in 93 balls before Marsh was dismissed after scoring his half-century.

Amla completed his century with a six on the fourth ball off the final over but was dismissed on the next. This is the second time that he has ended up on the losing side after scoring a century.

Brendon McCullum’s absence from their line-up threw an important question for Gujarat Lions — who will replace him at the top of the order. And when Kings XI Punjab posted 189 for the loss of three wickets batting first, Gujarat needed an aggressive opener alongside Ishan Kishan. They had a choice between Dwayne Smith and Aaron Finch. Smith, who had been coming down the order, hadn’t had a fruitful IPL but Finch has performed in the limited opportunities he got.

But, Gujarat decided to go for Smith and he repaid the faith with a stunning innings 74 runs off 39 balls, which overshadowed Hasim Amla second century of IPL 2017 and set up a six-wicket win for Gujarat. The visitors were cruising in the chase until the 18th over in which Sandeep Sharma picked up two wickets, of Suresh Raina and Aaron Finch, to revive some hope for Kings XI.

But Dinesh Karthik used all his experience and guided his team home with two balls remaining. He remained unbeaten after playing a 35-run innings off 22 balls.

The loss dearly affected Kings XI’s chances of qualifying for the play-offs as they remained fifth in the points table with 10 points from 11 games. They now have to win all their remaining matches and hope Sunrisers Hyderabad lose one of their remaining two matches.

Gujarat, who were already out of play-off contention, moved up to the sixth spot, overtaking Delhi Daredevils, who also have eight points but have a worse net run-rate. Their win ensured Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore will end up last for the first time in the history of Indian Premier League.

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