Shubman Gill's majestic 129 off 60 balls powered Gujarat Titans into the final of IPL 2023 with a 62-run win over Mumbai Indians in Ahmedabad. Titans will face Chennai Super Kings at this very ground on Sunday in a bid to defend their title.
Earlier, rain delayed the match by 30 minutes. With the weather around, Rohit Sharma opted to chase after winning the toss. Titans didn't have a great start, but Gill's knock lifted them to a mammoth 233 for 3. This was Gill's third hundred in four matches; only Virat Kohli and Jos Buttler (four each) have scored more in a single edition of the IPL. The knock took Gill's run tally to 851. Once again, only Kohli (973 in 2016) and Buttler (863 in 2022) have had more productive seasons.
No team had chased down this many in the IPL. And then Mumbai lost two early wickets. But they didn't go down without a fight. Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma took them to 72 in six overs before Rashid Khan castled the latter. From there on, Suryakumar kept them in the contest almost singlehandedly with his 61 off 38. But Mohit Sharma uprooted his leg stump when the batter missed a scoop. In the next over, Rashid trapped Tim David lbw to end Mumbai's hopes.
Mohit, who hadn't bowled till the 14th over, used his slower balls to good effect and finished with figures of 2.2-0-10-5.
Despite scoring at least one four in every over from the second to fifth, Titans reached only 38 for no loss after five. Gill then latched onto Chris Jordan in the last over of the powerplay. The second legal delivery of the over was too short and sat up on this sticky pitch. Gill waited for it and pulled it with disdain over deep square leg. The next one was slightly short outside off. Gill once again showed no mercy and cut it ferociously to the cover boundary.
Luck too was on Gill's side. In the same Jordan over, he punched one uppishly to the right of mid-on where Tim David dived, got both hands to the ball but couldn't hold on to it. He was on 30 at that point.
Titans finished the powerplay on 50 for no loss but Wriddhiman Saha was struggling for timing. In the fourth over of the innings, Akash Madhwal had hit him on the helmet with a skiddy bouncer, and soon after Piyush Chawla had him stumped with a leg-side wide. It was the sixth time in 16 innings this season that Chawla struck in his first over of the match.
Gill brought up his fifty off 32 balls. And then he cut loose. In a space of nine balls, he hit five sixes and a four off Madhwal and Chawla. He didn't slow down even in the 90s; his second fifty took just 17 balls. Immediately after reaching his hundred, he smashed Cameron Green for 6, 4 and 6. By the time Gill holed out to deep midwicket, off Madhwal, Titans had reached 192 in the 17th over.
Titans retire out Sudharsan
All this happened while Sai Sudharsan was playing second fiddle to Gill. But with nine wickets in hand, Titans needed both batters to attack. The 18th and 19th overs combined went for just 16, after which Titans retired out Sudharsan who scored 43 off 31. Rashid replaced him in the middle and hit his first ball for four. Hardik Pandya then applied the finishing touch, hitting the last two balls of the innings for four and six.
Shami strikes twice in powerplay
Coming into this game, Mohammed Shami had represented Titans three times against Mumbai. On all three occasions, he went wicketless. Tonight, though, he struck twice inside the powerplay to put Mumbai on the back foot. Nehal Wadhera, who came in as Impact Player for Madhwal, was caught behind in the first over of the chase, and Rohit top-edged a pull in the third.
In between those two dismissals, Hardik hit Green on the left forearm with a short ball, forcing the batter to retire hurt. During the first innings, Ishan Kishan had walked off the field after Jordan's elbow hit him in the eye when the two were crossing each other. So when Rohit departed, leaving Mumbai 21 for 2, it felt like they were effectively 21 for 4. But Green came out to resume his innings later, and Kishan's injury had seemingly resulted in a concussion, so Mumbai replaced him with Vishnu Vinod.
Rashid, Mohit trump mighty Mumbai
Varma started by hitting two sixes in his first four balls, and then smashed Shami for four fours and a six in a 24-run over. He had moved to 43 off just 13 with 100% control over his shots. Hardik turned to Rashid in an attempt to put the brakes on the scoring rate. The spinner duly obliged his captain by bowling Varma when the batter tried to sweep him.
At the fall of Varma's wicket, Green came out once again, and was looking dangerous. He and Suryakumar added 52 in 5.2 overs before Josh Little pinged his leg stump with a delivery that seamed in from good length.
Suryakumar, though, was still battling in the middle. He reached his fifty, off 33 balls, with a scoop-pull over the wicketkeeper's head. He brought down the equation to 79 needed from 34 balls before Mohit sent him packing. Two balls later, the seamer had Vinod caught at extra cover.
David was Mumbai's last hope. Hardik, as always, had saved Rashid's one over and brought him on in the 16th. With his third ball, Rashid trapped David lbw. The batter reviewed the decision but he couldn't have been more out. From the other end, Mohit cleaned up the tail to pick up his maiden five-for in T20 cricket.