The Gujarat Lions won only their second victory of the IPL season as they defeated the Kolkata Knight Riders by four wickets.
After KKR blitzed their way to 187-5, Gautam Gambhir’s side were heavily fancied to take their fifth win of the tournament and head back to the top of the standings. But the Lions, who started the day at the bottom of the standings, upset the hosts at Eden Gardens to move off the bottom.
The bowlers were once again disappointing for the visitors, with just seven wickets being taken in the four matches they have lost so far. But Raina produced his best performance as skipper, smashing 84 to make it a comfortable chase.
It was complete carnage up front, as Gambhir and makeshift opener Sunil Narine hammered 45 off the first three overs, with 42 of them coming from the West Indian spinner Narine. He smacked seven fours off his first 11 balls, before scoring 42 off only 17. Raina brought himself on and he struck with his second ball to see Narine off.
Two more hearty partnerships followed from the hosts, and both of them involved experienced campaigner Robin Uthappa, who amassed 69 with Gambhir, before adding another 55 with Manish Pandey. Gambhir, who has been in terrific form this season, scored 33 before Australian paceman James Faulkner saw the back of him.
The total looked like it was going to breeze past 200 with the run-rate being maintained at 10 an over throughout, but the side from Gujarat fought back at the death, as Praveen Kumar saw off Uthappa in the penultimate over for 72, while Pandey was bowled for 24 in the last, as they settled for 187-5.
The response was clinical from Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum, who wasted no time at all in smashing boundaries off every bowler they faced. Nathan Coulter-Nile eventually saw off his countryman for 31, before a slight rain delay brought a halt to proceedings.
That didn’t change the way McCullum went about his game, who continued to swing his bat, before England all-rounder Chris Woakes eventually got his man for 33 off 17.
A class act then followed from Raina, who seemingly effortlessly carried his side over the line with a vast array of strokes. The likes of Dinesh Khartik (3) and Dwayne Smith (5) fell around him cheaply, but he powered on, and found a willing partner in Ravindra Jadeja.
The pair added 58, but it was all Raina, as he smashed nine fours and four sixes on his way to 84. When he lost his wicket, the damage was already done. Jadeja provided the finishing touch with 19 off 13, as the visitors saw off the remaining runs with 10 balls still in the bank.