IPL: Pune set competitive target for Gujarat

Rajkot, April 14 (IANS) Faf du Plesis led the way with a half-century as Rising Pune Supergiants posted 163/5 in their Indian Premier League (IPL) tie against Gujarat Lions at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Thursday.

Du Plesis scored 69 runs off 43 balls, studding his stay in the middle with five boundaries and four sixes. Former England star Kevin Pietersen gave him excellent support from the other end, scoring 37 runs off 31 deliveries.

Pietersen smashed a couple of boundaries and a six as the duo found the gaps at regular intervals, putting together a partnership of 86 runs.

India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was the standout performer among the Gujarat bowlers with figures of 2/18 in his four overs. Leg-spinner Pravin Tambe (2/33) also bagged a couple of wickets, including the prized one of du Plesis. Dwayne Bravo was a bit expensive, giving away 43 runs in his four overs, but he managed to clinch the crucial wicket of Pietersen.

Electing to bat first on winning the toss, Pune skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni saw his decision justified as openers Faf du Plesis and Ajinkya Rahane gave the team a flying start.

With du Plesis going after the Gujarat bowlers, Rahane played a steady innings at the other end, scoring 21 runs off 17 balls with four well-timed hits to the fence. Tambe handed the hosts the breakthrough when Rahane missed the line of a delivery that kept straight after pitching, only to see the ball hit him on the backfoot.

Rahane’s dismissal did not bring any respite for the Gujarat bowlers as Pietersen joined du Plesis in the middle and the duo proceeded to lay the foundation for a competitive total.

Bravo finally got rid of Pietersen with an in-swinging slower delivery. The South Africa veteran was completely fooled by the clever change of pace as the ball crashed into the stumps.

Tambe struck another crucial blow for the Lions soon after by sending du Plesis back to the pavilion. The South African right-hander had smashed a four and six off the previous two deliveries. He went for a thrid consecutive bit shot, dancing down the track in an effort to hit the ball over the long on fence. But he miscued his shot as Gujarat wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik pulled of a smart stumping.

Jadeja then sent back Steven Smith early in the next over to put the brakes on Pune’s once soaring run rate. However, Dhoni produced a trademark strong finish, plundering 22 runs off 10 balls help Pune finish on a strong note.

Brief scores:

Rising Pune Supergiants 163/5 in 20 overs (Faf du Plesis 69, Kevin Pietersen 37; Ravindra Jadeja 2/18, Pravin Tambe 2/33) vs Gujarat Lions

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