IPL 2016: Finch, Karthik set Gujarat on course for victory

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Gujarat Lions 98/2 at the halfway mark

Leggie Sahu gets the ball. He would feel lucky after that over, bowled four short ones and has somehow escaped the Finch’s punishing willow. But one’s smacked for a boundary, pulls it with some power. Nine runs have come off this over.

Axar continues. A quiet over – 1,0,1,1,1,wide,1. Finch’s batting on 54 and his partner, Karthik, is on 12.

Gujarat Lions 83/2 after 8 overs

Three fours off the Stoinis over. It’s becoming all too easy for the two batsmen – they’re picking boundaries at will and regular intervals. Equation still seem to be in favour of the batting side: 79 runs required from 12 overs.

The previous two matches were won the team batting second, will it be any different today?

Axar introduced into the attack. He conceded a couple of boundaries off that over – Karthik and Finch help themselves to a boundary. Eleven runs off that over. Gujarat Lions 68/2 after over no. 7

Another one falls for a slower ball! Stoinis gets Raina caught at mid-on.

MItch is back. Finch somehow manages to get the ball down to thirdman, and gets a boundary. Some skill, that! He’s bowled a couple of wides – the left-right batting combination seems to be troubling him. Johnson’s seven-ball yields nine runs. It’s smooth sailing for Gujarat, they’re placed at 45/1 after 5 overs.

Guj. 36/1 after 4 overs

Mohit Sharma’s into the attack. Finch’s waiting on the backfoot and the bowler’s obliging him with short ones. Two fours of the first two balls and the last – Gujarat Lions upping the tempo. Not a great start to Mohit Sharma’s Punjab stint.

Gujarat Lions 23/1 after three overs

Raina launches into the fourth ball, gets the elevation and distance to get a six. Some urgency shown by the batsmen, here. 11 runs came off it. Captain Raina moves to 9.

Mitch Johnson, who’s going to bowl at least a good 20 kmph faster than Sharma, comes to bowl. Johnson gets clobbered for two boundaries. Short, wide and fast – just what Finch wanted after a Sharma’s slow swinging balls. The over ends at Gujarat’s score reading: 12/1

Sharma sends Baz packing, gone for a duck, after the first over, Guj. 1/1

Sandeep Sharma should be a handful on this wicket. And as I type that, he raps Finch on the pads but that going down the leg side. The ball’s swinging around quite a bit, posing some trouble for the trans-Tasmanian duo. McCullum goes down the pitch to counter the swing, but ends up missing the ball and gets stumped.

One more over to go, Kings XI 155/4

India Under-19 captain Ishan Kishan drops a difficult one – it was dipping on him as he dived and the ball bursts through his hands. Saha gets a reprieve, will he make use of it? Stoinis, like the previous over, manages to get a boundary off the last over. 170, possible?

Bravo continues with his slower balls. OUT! Saha (20 off 25), trying to muscle one past the midwicket boundary, perishes to a slower ball. And, it’s another wicket! Yes, another slower ball. Stoinis is out for 33 off 22 balls. Kings XI finish on 161/6 and Bravo reckons it’s a good total.

“As much as I can,” says Bravo, when asked about the number of slower balls he likes to bowl. When asked about his record feat, a modest Bravo says, “Malinga is the best bowler in the world, I can’t compare myself with him.”

Kings XI inching towards 150, 146/4 after 18 overs

PK to bowl his last over. He’s darting them straight at the batman;s toes – in the blockhole. 1,1,1,1,2…..and Stoinis spoils his figures with a ramp shot – gets a boundary.

Faulkner’s showing why he’s Australia’s preferred death overs bowler. Saha’s struggling to keep the scoreboard ticking – runs coming in 1s and 2s. Three more to go, Kings XI: 135/4

PK’s back. No boundaries in this over and the run rate is just a shade above 6 now. Four more to go and these two need to get a move on quickly. The score at the end of over no. 16: 130/4

Kings XI: 125/4 after 15 overs

End overs specialist Faulkner’s brought into the attack. Stoinis slaps a wide one and beats the point fielder to get his second boundary. Some urgency shown by the batsman – a couple of singles and a brisk two in that over. That’s a good over for Punjab, 11 off it.

Man of the moment, Bravo continues to bowl, his third over, this. Stoinis gets a much-needed boundary for Kings XI, who are 114/4 (RR: 8.14) after 14 overs.

As I’m about type about the next over, Jadeja finishes his next. Phew! Five runs off the thirteenth over and the run rate is still looking healthy at 8.23.

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