Raina, Smith confirm Lions’ top-two spot

KANPUR:Suresh Raina and Dwayne Smith once again combined to stifle the opposition, this time Mumbai Indians, and secure a rightful place in the Indian Premier League playoff with a six–wicket victory here on Saturday.

In command: Gujarat Lions captain Suresh Raina was in control as his team chasead down a tricky score against Mumbai Indians

The win gave Lions 18 points and left Mumbai Indians praying for a favourable development from the Kolkata Knight Riders-Sunrisers Hyderabad match on Sunday. A big win for Hyderabad can work for Mumbai Indians.

A packed Green Park witnessed the rise of a team thanks to Smith’s all-round show and Raina’s tactful construction of an innings that proved decisive in a chase that saw Mumbai Indians failing to defend 172.

Nitish Rana played a compact innings for Mumbai Indians but Raina and Smith left the opponents flustered with their professional performance. Raina’s half century and Smith’s brilliance with the ball and the bat was too hot to handle.

Lions emerged from a second-ball dent when it lost Aaron Finch. The 96-run second wicket stand between Raina and Brendon McCullum swung the game away from Mumbai Indians.

There was a minor scare when Dinesh Karthik and Raina fell in succession and Mumbai Indians nurtured hopes. Smith stepped in and settled the issue with a few robust shots and finished the task with Ravindra Jadeja for company.

Rohit Sharma is often unable to distinguish between playing a shot or playing into the hands of the bowler. It was a nice set up.

He played some searing shots on the front and then, carried away with his success, unerringly found the man on square leg boundary. He was surprised to find a fielder he thought was non-existent. His cameo regaled the audience nevertheless.

Krunal Pandya walked in and walked out in a jiffy. He backs himself to belt every ball.

Only such tactics work sparsely. Mumbai Indians, put in, was rocked frequently and Gujarat Lions worked on the situation tightly to keep the contest engaging.

The crowds lapped it all. Dwayne Smith worked his ‘magic’ with the ball again and struck twice but he slackened his pace and conceded runs in his second spell.

He, however, was awry tonight compared to his superb show against Kolkata Knight Riders in the previous match.

For Mumbai Indians, the young Delhi left-hander, Nitish Rana, created a competitive stage. His clean hitting was talk of the last season and he exhibited his skills to clear the boundary even off decent deliveries quite convincingly.

He and Jos Buttler scored merrily before Dwayne Bravo plucked a reflex return catch to put a stop to the run-torrent. But Rana had marked his bowlers and scoring areas.

The Mumbai Indians staggered when Rohit, Martin Guptill and Pandya perished. Rana took the responsibility, batting with a flourish, repeatedly beating the man on the boundary with clever placements. Most of his scoring came from properly executed strokes until the moment he picked the lone fielder in the country.

The 22-year-old won the appreciation of one and all with his 36-ball 70.

Kieron Pollard walked into an ovation befitting his home turf — Port of Spain.

A top-edged six to long-on was an astonishing shot before he fell. Mumbai Indians, however, posed a stiff challenge to the ‘home’ team.

Lions thought otherwise and coasted home with 13 balls to spare.

Posted by on May 22, 2016. Filed under Sports World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.