IPL 2017: Gujarat’s defusal of Amla ton glues RCB to last spot

Hashim Amla prompted an urgent reevaluation of his Twenty20 batting stocks with his second hundred of IPL 2017, cracking 104 off 60 balls in an effort that embarrassingly fell short, not for the first time in this edition, as Gujarat Lions chased down 190 in a nail-biter against Kings XI Punjab at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali on Sunday (May 7).

Dwayne Smith’s 74 off 39 balls and a couple of handy thirties from Suresh Raina (39 off 25) and Dinesh Karthik (35 off 23) ticked the chase off in style, rendering Amla’s innings insufficient while ensuring that the Royal Challengers Bangalore finish last on the points table this year.

The twists and turns

– Smith’s dismissal: Until say the twelfth over, things looked headed one way, Gujarat Lions’ way. Smith was then batting on 74 off 38, Gujarat needed 70 off 53 and a target of 190 looked comfortably in sight. Glenn Maxwell then had Smith hole out at deep mid-wicket and the realization of a stiff chase sprung up, almost immediately.

– Raina’s six off Mohit: Just one boundary was hit off the next three overs that followed Smith’s dismissal, but Raina and Karthik rotated the strike well, bringing the equation down to 42 off 30 balls. Mohit Sharma has a brilliant start to the sixteenth over, bowling five balls for four runs, but was laid into by Raina on the last ball, when a cleverly-picked slower ball was dispatched for six.

– Raina dropped by Gurkeerat: 31 off 21 was needed, Raina was on 37 when Gurkeerat Singh failed to take the catch at long-off, off Varun Aaron’s bowling.

– Sandeep Sharma’s double blow: Bowling the 18th over, Sandeep struck first ball with Raina’s wicket, having the batsman hole out to Gurkeerat, who had dropped Raina two deliveries before. Then came Aaron Finch’s wicket with a top-edged pull. Punjab sensed a comeback; Gujarat needed 24 off 12.

– Karthik’s top-edged pull: If one Finch had top-edged a pull to hand Punjab some control, Karthik top-edged a pull off the other Aaron (Varun), who happened to be so quick that the top edge popped over for a six. A short and wide delivery followed, 13 were needed off 9, and the match was all but won.

– Natarajan’s wayward last over: Eight runs could still be defended, if T Natarajan bowled well. Karthik and Ravindra Jadeja had stolen a third run off the first ball of the last over and as if that wasn’t enough, Natarajan self-inflicted panic with two consecutive wides down the leg-side, taking the equation from close to conquerable. Karthik smacked a wide ball through covers and took Gujarat home with two balls to spare.

How Amla set up Punjab’s 189

Gujarat Lions could get Hashim Amla only off the penultimate ball of the innings, when he missed a yorker from Basil Thampi and was pinned in front. Otherwise, Amla looked a league above the rest, almost batting through the innings and stitching a crucial 125-run stand for the second wicket with Shaun Marsh. The duo matched each other shot for shot during the partnership, until Marsh fell to Dhawal Kulkarni in the 16th over for Amla to take charge, as evidenced by the six he hit Kulkarni for off just the next ball.

Punjab’s ugly powerplay with the ball

Sandeep Sharma had Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers off successive poweplay overs in his last game. Tonight, he found no swing, conceded 25 runs off the three he bowled inside the six overs and was reprimanded by the umpire, too.

Sandeep was bowling from over the wicket to Ishan Kishan, decided to switch to round the wicket and his first ball was called a no-ball. Why? – because the umpire wasn’t informed by Sandeep, or so he claimed, and a free-hit was signaled in an already poor powerplay for the bowling side.

Cut to the sixth over, when David Miller dropped Dwayne Smith on 42. He was thoroughly deceived by the change of pace, swatted a top-edge towards mid-off, where Miller made a meal of a simple chance. Smith went on to make 74 off 39, until Maxwell had him hole out at deep mid-wicket.

Dropped chances were what allowed Gujarat Lions to stay in the chase: first Smith, and then Raina later, both at very crucial junctures in the game.

Where do teams go from here

Gujarat Lions take on Delhi Daredevils at Green Park, Kanpur on Wednesday (May 10) while Kings XI Punjab host Kolkata Knight Riders In Mohali on Tuesday (May 9).

Kings XI Punjab still have a chance to make it to the play-offs. They are currently placed fifth with 10 points, with three games to go against Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant. They need not win all, yet, but then will have to be dependent on other results.

Brief Scores: Kings XI Punjab 189-3 in 20 overs (Hashim Amla 104, Shaun Marsh 58; Dhawal Kulkarni 1-24) lost to Gujarat Lions 192-4 in 19.4 overs (Dwayne Smith 74; Sandeep Sharma 2-29) by 6 wickets

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