Aaron Finch and Dwayne Bravo helped Gujarat Lions ease into the IPL with a thumping win against Kings XI Punjab in Mohali, the third one-sided affair of the season in three games. Barring the first over, Lions were in total control of the 162 chase after Finch set it up with his first IPL fifty since 2014.
Brendon McCullum, fresh off a whirlwind ton in his last Test, danced down the track off Sandeep Sharma in the first over with keeper Wriddhiman Saha standing up. Sandeep, though, anticipated a forward shimmy and bowled the perfect outswinger to leave McCullum stranded. Finch and Suresh Raina then took the attack to the pacers, both capitalizing on loose deliveries along with intermittent swipes.
After Raina holed out to mid-on in the sixth over, Finch peppered the boundary with deft touch and exemplary placement, particular behind square on the off side. His 47-ball 74 saw 12 boundaries, and it required a moment of brilliance from the debutant Pardeep Sahu to remove him. Sahu drew Finch forward but the legspinner beat him in flight and loop, as Saha completed his second stumping off the innings.
The rest of the innings was a mere formality as Dinesh Karthik accrued his runs in typical fashion, with his sweeps being the most productive.
Kings XI were given an ideal start by their openers - M Vijay and Manan Vohra - who saw off the swinging new ball before getting stuck into their work. A blend of crisp drives and flicks earned the pair a fifty-run stand within the Powerplay. The spreading field did not impede Vohra, as he manufactured boundaries with the use of his feet off the spinners.
However, momentum shifted rapidly as Ravindra Jadeja struck twice in consecutive overs to remove the openers. Dwayne Bravo undid Glenn Maxwell and David Miller in the space of three balls with contrasting yorkers. Bravo became the first bowler to 300 T20 wickets with his new weapon - the slow, dipping yorker that deceived Miller.
Suddenly, debutant Marcus Stoinis and Wriddhiman Saha were left to rebuild a rollicking start. The pair were forced to use the large Mohali pockets to find their runs, but struggled to find the boundaries towards the end. Much of that was down to the efficiency of the Lions bowlers, who executed their yorkers and slower balls.
Bravo took two more wickets off consecutive slower balls in the last over, and could have had his best T20 bowling figures had Sarabjit Ladda pouched a skier off the last ball. Just two boundaries and 36 runs were scored off the last five overs, and Kings XI could muster 161. With momentum firmly with Lions, it was always going to be a tough task for Kings XI, who slumped to their ninth loss from the last ten games. (espncricinfo)