Gujarat Titans recorded another clinical win, hammering Kolkata Knight Riders in in their home ground on Saturday.
After Hardik Pandya won the toss and a 45-minute delay due to rain, Mohammad Shami dominated the early overs once again, sending N Jagadeesan and Shardul Thakur back to the dugout inside the powerplay overs. But Afghanistan opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz came out with clear intent and bludgeoned the bowling to all corners of the ground, giving the home fans reason to stay on their feet.
Shami, Hardik and Rashid Khan were shown no mercy as he attacked from one end even though runs came in singles and twos at the other with Venkatesh Iyer finding the going tough.
Then Irishman Joshua Little was introduced into the attack. He kept the angles tight and bowled it in that corridor of uncertainty, beating Gurbaz’s bat on five occasions in 2 overs.
Little gave just ten runs in his first two overs before he struck twice in an over — having Iyer LBW plumb in front of the stumps for 11 and then seeing the back of KKR captain Nitish Rana for 4.
At 88 for 4 in 11 overs, in walked in Rinku Singh, who struggled to find the gaps on the big shots on the night but Gurbaz wasn’t deterred as he smashed Mohit Sharma and Rashid Khan for 29 runs in back-to-back overs before he was taken out by fellow Afghani Noor Ahmad for 81.
Birthday boy Russell then thumped a few big blows to put the finishing touches as KKR put on a below par 179 for 7. With Little’s spectacular spell of 2 for 25 off his 4 overs and Rinku and Venkatesh Iyer not firing, KKR had to defend a not so challenging total.
With Gujarat Titans’ batting line-up going deep, 180 was always a chaseable total. And again it was the sublime Shubman Gill who gave their innings an early thrust.
Hardik also landed a few lusty blows and the duo brought up their 50-run partnership in the 11th over. The batters were soon dismissed in successive overs and David Miller and Vijay Shankar took a couple of overs to settle with Suyash Sharma and Varun Charkravarthy not bowling freebies.
What looked like a massive task with 69 needed off the last six overs, didn’t look like a task eventually. Miller, who was put down by Suyash off the bowling of Russell, made them pay and Shankar stepped on the gas and how!
They clobbered Suyash, Russell and Chakravarthy for 55 runs off three overs to turn the match on its head before Shankar completed the formalities in the 18th over with a couple of big hits.
What was looking like a massive task till the 14th over, eventually became a cakewalk with Shankar bringing out his attacking best, even overshadowing the otherwise big-hitting Miller.
The duo’s stand of 87 off 39 balls took GT past the finish line and to the top of the table.
- IPL 2023
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