Kanpur: Debutants Gujarat Lions became the first team to confirm a play-off berth with a thumping six-wicket win over defending champions Mumbai Indians in an Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter, here on Saturday.
Their win also mean that Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are also 16 points will qualify for play-offs even if they lose to Kolkata Knight Riders in their final group league game on Sunday.
Chasing a stiff target of 173, Lions hunted down the formidable Mumbai outfit in 17.5 overs with their skipper Suresh Raina (58 off 36 balls) again showing that when it comes to IPL big games, he simply has no peers.
With Brendon McCullum (48, 27 balls), Raina added 96 in 9 overs to set up the game up for the Lions.
If Raina and McCullum started the carnage, it was Dwayne Smith (37 not out, 23 balls), who successfully completed the chase with a flourish hitting with four boundaries and two sixes in company of Ravindra Jadeja (21 not out in 15 balls)
His innings was laced with eight fours and two sixes as it took Lions to 18 points which ensured that they would be among the top two teams in the four-team play-offs.
For MI, it will all depend on the results of Sunday’s double headers as they now have to pray that KKR lose against Sunrisers Hyderabad to help them get another shot at the title.
The difference between the two teams was the whopping 48 dot balls that Gujarat Lions bowled and poor fielding that cost MI atleast 15 runs.
Mumbai Indians started well with R Vinay Kumar trapping Aaron Finch (0) leg before with a delivery that straightened after pitching.
However, there were no reasons to smile after Finch dismissal as Raina and McCullum -- two of the most explosive players took the MI attack to the cleaners with some decisive hitting.
The scored at a brisk rate taking minimal risks as the right-left combination matched each other stroke for stroke.
It was McCullum, who hit the first boundary off Jasprit Bumrah with a drive through mid-off. Having helped himself with another clip off pads off Vinay’s bowling, the former New Zealand captain was in his element when Krunal Pandya with his flat left-arm orthodox was introduced into the attack.
There were two boundaries and a six off Krunal’s over as Lions started putting the pressure on MI.
Bumrah, Harbhajan all lost their lengths and were punished by McCullum. He was finally bowled by a Harbhajan off-break having hit eight fours and a six.
But there was no stopping Raina as he played his trademark lofted cover drives, whipped off deliveries behind square completing his half-century in 30 balls.
The MI bowlers tried to pepper the Lions captain with short deliveries but he was equal to the task as he slashed one off Mitchell McLenaghan over third man for a six apart from three fours from the same over. Raina’s second six was over deep mid-wicket off Bumrah’s bowling.
Even after McCullum left, Raina did not let the tempo down as he carried on playing his natural game before he played a poor shot off Bumrah giving Jos Buttler an easy catch.
But Smith saw to it that there were no hiccups in the chase as he hit couple mighty sixes off Harbhajan’s bowling.
Brief scores: Mumbai Indians 172/8 (Nitish Rana 70, Dwayne Bravo 2/23, Praveen Kumar 2/24) lost to Gujarat Lions 173/4 in 17.5 overs (Suresh Raina 58, Brendon McCullum 48, Dwayne Smith 37 n.o).