In-form Smith strokes fifty to keep Lions top

PUNE, India, CMC – Dashing West Indies opener Dwayne Smith stroked a high-class half-century in a Man-of-the-Match performance, to help leaders Gujarat Lions beat Rising Pune Supergiants by three wickets off the last ball in their Indian Premier League contest here Friday.

Set an imposing 196 for victory at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Lions scrambled the nine runs needed from the last over to pull off their sixth win in seven outings, to move four points clear at the top of the standings on 12 points.

Smith pioneered the run chase with a superb 63 from 37 balls to record his second half-century in three days, and extend his rich vein of form.

West Indies batsman Dwayne Smith … struck a Man-of-the-Match half-century to lift Gujarat Lions to victory. (file photo)
West Indies batsman Dwayne Smith … struck a Man-of-the-Match half-century to lift Gujarat Lions to victory. (file photo)

The Barbadian right-hander counted nine fours and a six and put on 93 for the first wicket with New Zealander Brendon McCullum whose 43 came from 22 balls and included five fours and two sixes.

Captain Suresh Raina chipped in with 34 from 28 balls while wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik hit 33 from 20 deliveries.

Australian stroke-maker Steve Smith had earlier pummelled his maiden T20 hundred to help fire Supergiants to 195 for three off their 20 overs, after they were sent in.

The classy right-hander carved out 101 off 54 deliveries with eight fours and five sixes, adding 111 for the second wicket with opener Ajinkya Rahane who made 53 off 45 balls and a further 64 for the second wicket with captain MS Dhoni, who slammed an unbeaten 30 from 18 balls.

West Indies medium pacer Dwayne Bravo accounted for Smith in the final over to finish with one for 40 from his four overs.

Smith and McCullum then set the run chase on course with a flamboyant opening stand which saw Lions race to 62 without loss after just five overs.

Dropped on 35 off off-spinner Ravi Ashwin, Smith moved into the 40s with a six off seamer Rajat Bhatia before reaching his half-century off 28 balls by smashing the same bowler to the mid-wicket boundary, a couple of overs later.

McCullum fell in the ninth over and Smith eventually followed in the 11th over, inside-edging a full length delivery from Sri Lankan pacer Thisara Perera, into his middle stump.

Smith, overlooked for Lions’ first four matches, has now scored 148 runs from his three innings in the tournament.

Bravo, meanwhile, managed just seven from six balls before perishing in the penultimate over but James Faulkner scrambled the single needed from the last ball of the game to hand Lions victory.





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