Steven Smith’s brilliant century went in vain as Gujarat Lions rode on a blazing opening stand between Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum to beat Rising Pune Supergiants by three wickets in a thrilling last ball finish in their IPL match.
Smith smashed 101 off just 54 deliveries as Pune posted a challenging 195 for 3 after being put into bat but the Lions capitalised on the 93-run opening stand between Dwayne Smith (63 off 37 balls) and McCullum (43 off 22 balls) to pull off a narrow win at the MCA Stadium.
Captain Suresh Raina (34 off 28 balls) and Dinesh Karthik (33 off 20 balls) also made useful contributions as they stitched 51 runs together for the third wicket to take the Lions closer to victory.
The visiting side made a heavy weather of the 196-run chase towards the end as they lost the wickets of Dwayne Bravo (7), Ravindra Jadeja (0), Ishan Kishan (0) and Raina in quick succession but James Faulkner (9 not out) was there at the end to take the Lions home.
The Lions needed nine runs from the final over bowled by Thisara Perera but they lost Raina and Kishan in consecutive deliveries, leaving them to get three from two overs.
The penultimate delivery fetched the Lions two runs and Faulkner took a single off the last ball to take the Lions to 196 for 7 and post their sixth win in seven matches.
With the win today, the Lions consolidated their top spot at the league table as they have collected 12 points from seven matches. Rising Pune Supergiants remained sixth with four points from seven matches.
The Lions began their run chase in a flier with Smith and McCullum butchering the Pune bowlers to submission. The hard-hitting opening duo blazed to 72 without loss in the first six powreplay overs, hitting boundaries with impunity.
The opening pair took 24 runs off the third over bowled by Albie Morkel with McCullum hitting three fours and a six, followed by 15 and 14 runs from the next two overs.
McCullum was out in the ninth over with Rajat Bhatia giving Pune the much-needed breakthrough. The former New Zealand captain went for a slog sweep but his top edge landed at the safe hands of Morkel at short fine leg.
Smith continued his aggressive batting and sent the next ball after McCullum’s dismissal to the boundary to bring up his fifty off just 28 deliveries.
The Lions reached the 100-run mark in the ninth over but Smith was out in the next over as the West Indian inside-edged a Perera yorker length delivery onto the stumps.
The run rate dipped a bit but Raina and Karthik kept the scoreboard ticking with at least a single from every delivery.
Karthik was out in the 17th over off the bowling of Ashok Dinda as the batsman holed out to Rahane at long-on, leaving the Lions needing 30 from 22 deliveries.
Next man in, Bravo was out in the penultimate over as he perished while chasing a wide ball bowled by Dinda.
Earlier, Steven Smith blazed his way to a 54-ball 101 as Rising Pune Supergiants posted 195 for three.
Smith’s was the third century of this edition of the cash-rich league after Quinton de Kock and Virat Kohli had reached the landmark in the previous matches.
Invited to bat by Lions skipper Suresh Raina, Rising Pune Supergiants rode on opener Ajinkya Rahane’s 53 and Smith’s knock to set a challenging target of 196.
The duo of Rahane and Smith was involved in a 113-run partnership for the second wicket in just 11 overs, after the home team lost Saurabh Tiwary with just 13 runs on the board in the third over.
While Rahane found the fence five times during his 45-ball knock, Australian captain Smith smashed the Gujarat Lions bowlers for eight boundaries and five sixes to lay the foundation for a strong total.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit 30 off 18 balls with the help of two fours and as many sixes. He added 64 runs in double quick time with Smith before Dwayne Bravo put the brakes on the third wicket stand.
Smith got to his century in 53 balls when whacked Bravo over midwicket for a four. However, the West Indian all-rounder had his revenge when he clean bowled him in the next ball. Dhoni then finished off the innings with a boundary through mid-off.
Barring Bravo, none of the Gujarat Lions bowlers tasted success and the other two dismissals came through run outs.
While the Smith-Rahane association laid the foundation after an early setback, it was the Aussie’s partnership with Dhoni that helped Pune increase their run rate. The duo managed almost 12 runs an over in the 5.5 overs they batted together.
Lions’ slow left-arm spinner Shivil Kaushik, playing in place of the injured Pravin Tambe, went for 32 runs in three overs.