Rajkot: Kolkata Knight Riders announced themselves as serious contenders for the title this season by thumping the Gujarat Lions in their own backyard by 10 wickets with captain Gautam Gambhir and Chris Lynn hitting a barrage of boundaries, to chase down a reasonably big target of 183 runs with 31 balls to spare. The duo also put together the highest opening partnership ever in IPL history.
Needing 184 for victory, the KKR openers started in cavalier fashion with Chris Lynn sending Suresh Raina and company on a leather hunt from the beginning itself, once again exposing Gujarat's fragile bowling attack in the absence of the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo.
Manpreet Gony was introduced into the attack and Gautam Gambhir welcomed him to the crease with a boundary. Then Lynn got stuck into the big bowler and got a boundary and a six off the over.
Lynn's power-hitting and Gambhir's artistic stroke play continued as the Knight Riders ended the powerplay over with 73 runs on the board. Dwayne Smith bowled the seventh over and this is when Lynn took his attack to the next level, hitting the West Indian for three sixes and four to race to his half-century in just 19 deliveries.
The 11th over saw Manpreet Gony being hit for three boundaries by Gambhir, which also brought up the highest ever opening stand for KKR in the IPL.
The Gujarat bowlers had by then thrown the towel in and Lynn and Gambhir continued with their onslaught. The match was won in the 15th over itself, Lynn was unbeaten on 93 off just 41 deliveries, his innings studded with six boundaries and eight maximums.
Gambhir was unbeaten on76 off 48 deliveries, hitting 12 magnificent boundaries.
Earlier, Gujarat Lions were put into bat by Gautam Gambhir and they were given a steady start at the top by Brendon McCullum and Jason Roy. Roy was the aggressor as he got the boundaries going early, putting up a show for the partisan crowd in Rajkot.
Raina top edged the second last delivery of the sixth over, bowled by Chris Woakes, and Kuldeep Yadav made a valiant effort to catch the ball, but couldn't hold on to it.
McCullum then hit Kuldeep Yadav for a six and a four of the last two deliveries of the 7th over as the Lions finished the with 64 runs on the board. The Kiwi though would depart on the first delivery of the 9th over, bowled by the chinaman, after scoring 35 runs off 24 deliveries.
Aaron Finch joined Raina in the middle and took the attack to the KKR bowlers from the word go, hitting Yusuf Pathan for two back to back sixes in the tenth over. Finch though was sent back to the pavillion after scoring just runs by Kuldeep Yadav.
Suresh Raina would have had to go back to the pavillion before completing his half-century after a mid-pitch mix-up with Dinesh Karthik, by Kuldeep Yadav has a 'brain fade' moment as he decided not to throw the ball to the wicket-keeper after collecting it at the bowler's end, despite Raina being stranded mid-pitch.
Raina duly completed his fifty and continued to live a charmed life as he was dropped in the deep by Yusuf Pathan. A sitter which just popped out of Pathan hand at the boundary.
Raina and Karthik upped the ante in the last three overs, getting boundaries at will. Karthik raced on 47 off just 25 balls before being dismissed off the penultimate delivery of the innings. Raina finished on a high as he carted the last delivery to the fence, finishing on an unbeaten 68 off 51 deliveries.
The Lions finishing with 183/4 in their 20 overs, having scored 53 of those run sin the last four overs.