Brendon McCullum claims orange cap as Gujarat Lions knock over Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL
A belligerent opening stand between Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch set the platform for a match-winning innings from Gujarat Lions skipper Suresh Raina in the latest action from the Indian Premier League.
Claiming the orange cap as the competition's top run-scorer in the process, McCullum blazed 33 off 17 as Gujarat chased down their 188-run target against Kolkata Knight Riders with 10 balls and four wickets to spare at Eden Gardens on Friday (Saturday NZ time).
Opening partner Finch also made a handy contribution, clubbing 31 off 15, but it was a superb 84 off 46 from Raina which played the key role in a comfortable victory which lifted the Lions off the bottom of the ladder.
Gujarat's second win in six matches took them to seventh in the eight-team competition Kolkata remaining second behind leaders Mumbai despite a second loss.
Although the nature of the win was reasonably convincing, that had not looked so probable after the home side posted a more than respectable 187-5 batting first.
The tactic of using West Indian spinner Sunil Narine as a pinch-hitter at the top of the order again paid off for the Knights Riders as he smoked 42 off only 17 balls to get his side off to a flyer.
Opening partner and captain Gautam Gambhir chipped in with a more steady 33 off 28, but it was a typically stylish 72 off 48 from Robin Uthappa at No 3 which was the major contributor to a very handy total.
Coming into the match after scores of 49, 64 and 72, McCullum was in no mood to get his eye in as the chase begun.
Neither was Finch, the Australian power-hitter Finch even more aggressive in belting four fours and two sixes before departing with 42 on the board in just 21 balls.
That allowed Raina to walk to the crease with the momentum well and truly in his team's favour.
The classy left-hander added a further 31 with McCullum before the former New Zealand captain was removed by English seamer Chris Woakes having hit five fours and one six, taking him equal top of the IPL six-hitting tally on 16 with Mumbai youngster Nitish Rana.
At that point, the platform was well and truly in place for Gujarat and Raina played a classy captain's knock, hitting nine fours and four sixes in total before falling with just a handful of runs required.
Ravindra Jadeja (19 off 13) and James Faulkner (four off two) saw the visitors across the line.