PUNE, April 29 (IANS): Gujarat Lions rode on a collective batting effort by Dwayne Smith (63 off 37) and Brendon McCullum (43 off 22) which helped them edge past Rising Pune Supergiants by three wickets in a nail-biting Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Friday.
Batting first, Steve Smith (101 off 54) struck up his maiden IPL ton as Pune posted an impressive 195/3 in 20 overs. He was well supported by Ajinkya Rahane (53).
In reply, openers Smith and McCullum set the perfect platform as middle order batsmen delivered in bits and pieces as the visitors chased down the total posting 196/7 in 20 overs.
Chasing a challenging target of 196, hard-hitting Smith and McCullum got Gujarat off to a rollicking start scoring 72 runs without losing any wicket after completion of powerplay.
The duo put on a 93-run stand for the first wicket, before McCullum gave his wicket away trying to step up the scoring rate.
Despite losing his opening partner, Smith played his natural game by scoring runs at good pace to take his team to the 100-run mark in the ninth over itself.
As he was looking set after striking nine boundaries and one six to take the game away from the home side, Perera stuck in the 11th over to send Smith packing and have Gujarat reduced to 115/2.
Dinesh Karthik (33) too departed in the 17th over after giving good support to skipper Suresh Raina (34).
But there after wickets fell one after the other but in the end, James Faulkner (9 not out) and Praveen Kumar (0 not out) remained unbeaten to take team to victory off the last ball.
Ashok Dinda (2-40) and Thisara Perera (2-41) were the pick of the bowers for Pune.
Earlier put into bat, Pune got off to a disappointing start losing opener Saurabh Tiwary (1) in the third over itself, with Raina coming in steaming with a diving effort to run the left-hander short of the crease.
But his opening partner Rahane and incoming batsman Smith held on to not lose anymore wickets to post 48/1 after completion of powerplay.
The talented duo used their experience to best effect to sneak in with ones and twos followed by a couple of boundaries and big hits to bring up their 100-run partnership for the second wicket in the 13th over itself and help their team reach 118/1.
But the 14th over saw a twist in the game as Dwayne Bravo ran Rahane out to break the partnership and have the home side reduced to 124/2.
Smith kept on playing his natural game as he stayed on course for a superb ton in IPL.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (30 not out off 18) did what he is known for, as the right-handed batsman played a cameo in the end to power his side to a competitive total.
Bravo (1-40) was the pick of the bowlers for Gujarat.
Brief Scores: Rising Pune Supergiants 195/3 in 20 overs (Steve Smith 101, Ajinkya Rahane 53; Dwayne Bravo 1-40) vs Gujarat Lions 196/7 in 20 overs (Dwayne Smith 63; Ashok Dinda 2-40, Thisera Perera 2-41)