Mohali: Debutants Gujarat Lions began their Indian Premier League (IPL) journey with an impressive five-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab at the Punjab Cricket Association's I.S. Bindra Stadium here on Monday.
Set a 162-run target, Lions reached the mark with 14 balls to spare with Australian opener Aaron Finch (74) scoring the majority of the runs. Dinesh Karthik (41 not out) was also a chief contributor.
Their run chase stuttered early on when former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum departed for a second ball duck, advancing down the track to be smartly stumped by Wriddhiman Saha off the bowling of Sandeep Sharma in the first over.
But the Lions recovered from the loss, spearheaded by skipper Suresh Raina (20) and Finch.
Raina guided the team past the 50-run mark in the sixth over with a big six over midwicket. But then he fell off the very next ball, foxed by a Marcus Stoinis slower delivery to offer a simple catch to mid-on.
Finch remained unperturbed by Raina's dismissal and used all his experience to lead his team's chase, bringing up his 50 in the eight over.
He forged another 50-run partnership with Karthik to bring up the 100 in the 11th over.
Lions were costing at that point but Finch's sudden stumping in the 12th over, leaving them 117/3, gave Punjab hopes of a turnaround. Lions still needed 41 runs from 42 balls. Ravindra Jadeja's (8) run out made the game more interesting.
But Karthik ensured they crossed the line without any more hiccups.
Earlier, Kings XI Punjab posted 161 for six after Gujarat captain Suresh Raina won the toss and opted to field, opening batsmen Murali Vijay (42 off 34) and Manan Vohra (38 in 23) provided a 78-run stand in 8.2 overs.
Then Dwayne Bravo (4/22) and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (2/30) led Gujarat's fightback as the hosts lost four wickets for 102 runs in 12 overs.
Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis (33 in 22 balls) and wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha (20) did the repair work and took the total to 161/6.
It seemed that Punjab will end up getting 180, thanks to their sound start. Right-handers Vijay and Vohra scored 53 runs without any loss till the powerplay overs (6).
Vijay hit three fours and a six off left-arm medium pacer Pradeep Sangwan, while Vohra also made merry, hitting James Faulkner for three fours in the fifth over.
The Punjab right-hander was dropped at his personal score of eight by Bravo, who ran from the deep midwicket in the fifth over.
Captain Raina's third bowler, leg-spinner Sarabjit Ladda also went for 21 runs in his two overs.
Then the captain turned to Indian left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who broke the partnership in his second over by trapping Vohra in front of the stumps. Then the hosts' score reached 78 in 8.2 overs.
Jadeja later also cleaned up Vijay as the right-hander opened up to create some room. He missed the ball and Punjab were 91/2 in 10.4 overs.
In the following over, medium pacer Bravo dealt a double blow, dismantling the stumps of Glenn Maxwell (two) and captain David Miller (15) -- which left the home side at 102/4.
Later, Stoinis and Saha were on a damage control mode before the former picked up four boundaries to keep his team in hunt for a competitive total.
Brief scores: KXIP: (161/6, Murali Vijay 42, Manan Vohra 38, Marcus Stoinis 33; Dwayne Bravo 4/22, Ravindra Jadeja 2/30) vs Gujarat Lions (162/5, Aaron Finch 74, Dinesh Karthik 41 not out, Sandeep Sharma 1/21)