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23rd Match (N), Ahmedabad, April 16, 2023, Indian Premier League
(19.2/20 ov, T:178) 179/7

RR won by 3 wickets (with 4 balls remaining)

Player Of The Match
56* (26)
Cricinfo's MVP
98.59 ptsImpact List

Hetmyer counter-attacks to take Royals clear at No. 1

For long periods of the chase Titans held a tight leash, but then they ran into Samson and Hetmyer

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
Rajasthan Royals 179 for 7 (Samson 60, Hetmyer 56*, Shami 3-25, Rashid 2-46) beat Gujarat Titans 177 for 7 (Miller 46, Gill 45, Sandeep 2-25) by three wickets
Rajasthan Royals had almost reached a point of no-return.
Their chase of 178 was going nowhere at 66 for 4. They needed a further 112 more off 48 balls. Twelve of those were to be bowled by Rashid Khan.
You sensed this was perhaps a task too steep, even for someone as pedigreed as Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer. But as Rinku Singh showed the other night at this very ground, it ain't over till it's over.
Samson went 6,6,6 in Rashid's third over that went for 20 runs, Hetmyer took the attack at the other end to his West Indies team-mate Alzarri Joseph. Within no time, momentum had swung the Royals way to such an extent that not even Samson's dismissal at that juncture seemed a bother.
Hetmyer stood tall to bring up his half-century off 25 balls, Dhruv Jurel contributed a cameo knock of 17 that was worth a lot more and R Ashwin came in to smack a six and a four in the penultimate over. All of this brought them within a couple of blows of victory.
With five needed off five, Hetmyer sealed a win that seemed improbable at one stage, by biffing Noor Ahmad for six as Royals had comeback from nowhere to pull off a heist that took them to the top of the IPL 2023 leaderboard five games in.
For Gujarat Titans, this was yet another heartbreak, eerily similar to the one they endured against Kolkata Knight Riders last week.

Titans' chaotic start

Wriddhiman Saha and B Sai Sudharsan were gone inside the powerplay as Titans limped to 42 for 2; the first time they didn't cross 50 in the first six overs this season.
Saha was out to a hoick that had three people going for it, only for a fourth, Trent Boult, take the rebound that followed a collision between Samson and Hetmyer. Sudharsan was run-out at the striker's end by a yard, after he coiled himself at the bowler's end; those precious seconds costing him the distance to make the ground.

Hardik-Gill get going

The pair set about rebuilding the innings, and one of the ways they went about it was to try and attack the spinners. Ashwin was hit for 27 in his first two; Gill used his feet to score against him, while Hardik took down Adam Zampa. The pair added 59 in just 33 balls before Yuzvendra Chahal deceived Hardik in flight to have him caught for a 19-ball 28.

Titans' slowdown

The next 30 deliveries following Hardik's dismissal went for just 31 runs as Royals brought their spinners into play superbly. Titans owed much of their momentum in the end to Abhinav Manohar and
Manohar made 27 off 13 in a game he may have not played had Vijay Shankar been fit. Miller did Miller things - taking the innings deep before unleashing some ferocious hits to make 46. Titans suddenly had 177 for 7, more than they looked like getting at one stage but perhaps less than what they would've liked anyway.

Royals rocked early

Yashasvi Jaiswal was snuffed out in the slips, and Jos Buttler was clean bowled - only his second duck in the IPL - trying to scoop Mohammed Shami. At 4 for 2 in three overs, they needed some semblance of normalcy which Devdutt Padikkal and Samson provided, until Rashid entered and made a splash.
In his first over, he had charging Padikkal slice a wrong'un to short third man. In his second over, the 11th, he had Riyan Parag flay one straight down long-off's throat.

Samson goes 6,6,6

With Royals needing 112 off 48, ESPNcricinfo win probability had Royals at 2.01%. But Samson unleashed some big hits in Rashid's third over. He got to the pitch to belt the first two down the ground and quickly transferred weight back to pull as soon as Rashid dropped short in trying to mix his lengths.
It's at this point that Titans introduced Noor Ahmad, the Afghanistan left-arm spinner, for his bag of tricks in place of Gill as the Impact Sub. After being hit for a six and four, he had Samson pick out long-off.

Hetmyer sees Royals home

Hetmyer was the perfect foil at the other end, feeding off Samson's energy with takedowns off his own, more so Joseph. There was a moment when Royals could've had Hetmyer, but for Shami who stumbled a few yards in at third man for a catch that may have been straight down his throat had he stayed on the ropes. Royals needed 62 off 29 then. It's a moment they could look back and wonder what could've been.
Dhruv Jurel, coming in at the fall of Samson's wicket, didn't take time settling in. His impeccable six-hitting and gamesmarts of using pace to good effect to play behind the wicket helped Royals quickly bring the deficit down.
Titans may have yet sniffed a chance when Jurel went for a 10-ball 17, but Ashwin wielded the long handle off his first two deliveries to bring the target down to single digits. From there on, Hetmyer wasn't going to let this slip away as Royals pulled off a comeback win.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Win Probability
RR 100%
100%50%100%GT InningsRR Innings

Over 20 • RR 179/7

RR won by 3 wickets (with 4 balls remaining)
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