Morne Morkel, the only South African in action on Saturday, impressed as there were IPL victories for the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Gujurat Lions.
The Gujurat Lions are the early dominators in IPL 2016 – the new franchise have now won their opening three matches – and it was Aaron Finch, Man of the Match from the first two matches, who led from the front yet again with 67.
The Lions’ modest bowling lineup stepped up again as Dhawal Kulkarni removed Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya in quick succession. Parthiv Patel found some impetus with a 29-ball 34, but Jos Buttler, the star from the Mumbai Indians’ clinical victory over KKR last week, battled with a laborious 16 off 21 balls.
A late blitz from Krunal Pandya (20 off 11) and Tim Southee (25 off 11) ensured they would have something to defend as they settled for 143-8.
Jasprit Bumrah claimed the key wicket of Brendon McCullum early on for six, but Finch made it three fifties in a row as he built up a solid 53-run stand with Suresh Raina.
When Raina departed for 27 it prompted a bit of a collapse thanks largely to some excellent bowling from Mitchell McClenaghan, but Finch fought on. Only two runs were scored in a manic penultimate over, with the Lions needing 11 off the last. Finch eventually smacked the one run needed off the final ball for four to seal what was, in the end, a dramatic victory.
In Saturday’s early game, the Kolkata Knight Riders made light work of the Sunrisers Hyderabad to win by eight wickets in Deccan. The defending champions brought Morkel back into the side and he bowled well upfront, taking 2-35 from his allotted overs.
The side from Hyderabad, who have yet to win from their two matches so far, lost openers David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan cheaply, and they struggled to gain any momentum from there. It took a 76-run stand from Eoin Morgan and Naman Ojha to repair the innings as Morgan scored 51, before they posted 142-7.
Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa plundered 92 runs at the top of the order, before skipper Gambhir struck an unbeaten 90 to see his side home with 10 balls remaining.