Skipper Raina blasts the Gujarat Lions to vital win

Gujarat Lions skipper Suresh Raina hit 84 off 46 balls to help his side to a four wicket win over the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.

Raina built on a great platform laid by openers Aaron Finch (31 off 15 balls) and Brendon McCullum (33 off 17 balls) who along with the skipper saw the Lions smash their way to 72 for 1 by the end of the powerplay chasing a target of 188 to win.

Earlier the Kolkata Knight Riders posted a total of 187/5 in their twenty overs with Sunil Narine (42 off 17 balls) getting them off to a flier.

His opening partner Gautam Gambhir had only scored 3 by the time Narine was caught by James Faulkner off the bowling of Suresh Raina.

Gambhir would go on to record 33 off 28 balls sharing a 69 run stand with Robin Uthappa for the second wicket before Raina repaid Faulkner with his grab giving the Aussie his first wicket of the 2017 IPL.

Uthappa would top score for the home team with a score of 72 off 48 balls and shared a 55 run stand with Manish Pandey (24) before he holed out in the penultimate over.

Raina was the pick of the bowlers with his figures of 2 for 11.

By the time Raina had finished his shift and thoroughly earned his man of the match award the Gujarat Lions were just 8 runs away from victory.

In the end Ravindra Jadeja (19* off 13 balls) and Faulkner (4*) would guide the Lions past the target.

Kuldeep Yadav snapped up Raina’s wicket and that of Ishan Kishan (4) to earn figures of 2 for 33 and be the pick of the bowlers in a losing effort for KKR.

Raina was happy with the seven bowlers he used saying: “It was an important game for us and we bowled pretty well.

“We came back pretty strongly. Then, me, Baz and Jaddu had a good partnership. It was important to play proper cricketing shots, there was no need to play cross-batted shots. Basil is a very good prospect for Gujarat.

“Faulkner was also great, got Gautam Gambhir out, overall, it was a great team effort. It was important for me to be out there and keep calm when wickets fell.

“I think batting looks good, we can still improve our bowling. we have been giving away lots of runs in the first six overs. If we are looking to finish on top, we need to minimise mistakes”

The win lifts the Gujarat Lions off the foot of the table but they will need to win the nearly all of their remaining matches to be in with a shout of a playoff place.