MOHALI: In the last nine games before Sunday, Dwayne Smith had just two double digit scores. On five occasions, he had departed without scoring. But as the saying goes, the all-rounder saved his best for the last. Scoring a blistering 74 off 39, the West Indian helped the already eliminated Gujarat Lions to a six-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab.
“I don’t think I wanted to save it for the last. I am always looking to get good scores for my team. Unfortunately, some things didn’t go my way. But I am a positive person and I know how to pick myself up and get scores when I need to,” Smith said, after the thrilling victory.
It was an exciting match that could have gone either way. Gujarat skipper Suresh Raina was confident that his batting would fire, before the start of the game. And his teammates did not disappoint him. Dinesh Karthik, Ishan Kishan and Raina himself chipped in as they chased down the target with two balls remaining.
Punjab did not have the best of starts. Martin Guptill, who opened with Hashim Amla, looked restless and lasted only five balls. But that was the only positive moment for Gujarat bowlers. Then on, it was an onslaught by Amla and Shaun Marsh. Amla was a delight to watch. Before the match, the South African was tipped to shine with the bat and he came up with a second century this season.
The duo forged a 125-run partnership for the second wicket in 89 balls. Marsh departed in the 16th over after a fine innings. With six boundaries, he scored 58 before being bowled by Dhawal Kulkarni in his final over. Amla was not done and subjected Basil Thampi to a day to forget. The 34-year-old scored an entertaining century from 59 balls. By the time Thampi got Amla, the score was past 180.
As for Punjab, the dropped catches came back to haunt them. Man of the match Smith was dropped on two occasions in the sixth and eighth over. First, Miller dropped a dolly as Smith tried to slog it over mid-off and two overs later, it was Gurkeerat Singh Mann who was unfortunate as he was not able to hold on to the ball.
Gurkeerat was again at wrong towards the end as he dropped Raina this time. Once again, the inconsistency in the Kings XI squad hampered their performance as their chance to qualify for playoffs weakened.
Kings XI Punjab 189/3 in 20 ovs (Amla 104, S Marsh 58, Kulkarni 1/24) lost to Gujarat Lions 192/4 in 19.4 ovs (D Smith 74, Raina 39, Karthik 35 n.o, Sandeep 2/29).