Gujarat Titans bounced back from two losses to seal an emphatic win over Lucknow Super Giants to vault themselves to the top of the IPL standings. Along the way, they also became the first team this season to seal a playoffs berth. While the game itself was one-sided, it threw up several moments to look back on.
Gill shines, but Titans top order needs to fire Shubman Gill's unbeaten 49-ball 63 was his second straight half-century, but his approach raised a debate on the ESPNcricinfo show T20 Time:Out. On 40 off 32 at the 12-over mark with Titans on 76 for 3, Gill took another 10 balls to reach his half-century in the 17th over, having got through the stretch without looking for a single boundary-scoring option.
Even so, Gill still ended up with a better strike rate than every other Titans batter apart from Rahul Tewatia, who finished the innings with an unbeaten 22 off 16, and Matthew Wade, who only lasted seven balls. This suggested the pitch wasn't the most straightforward to hit boundaries on. His approach may also have been dictated by Titans' lack of batting depth, with Rashid Khan slotted at No. 7.
With the likes of B Sai Sudharsan, Abhinav Manohar and Vijay Shankar failing to cement spots in the middle order, even Hardik has had to change his style of play, accumulating his runs early on while batting higher up the order.
Over the course of the season, Titans have been consistently bailed out by David Miller and Rahul Tewatia, and occasionally by Rashid, but they'd be the first to admit they need more contributions from the rest. On Tuesday, they tried to shore up the batting by including Wade, but he fell for 10 while attempting a cheeky scoop that he gloved to the wicketkeeper.
A debut to forget, A debut to remember
A first-class captain on Ranji Trophy debut for Uttar Pradesh, Karan Sharma, 23, was brought in for his first IPL game on Tuesday in Pune. Since 2006, Karan is the first player in India to captain a top-division team on debut. Five others have led the newer teams from the Northeast.
The Delhi-born Karan is an allrounder who bowls handy offspin and bats in the top order. In 10 T20s before this game, he had struck 301 runs at a strike rate of 136.19. Seemingly in a bid to strengthen their batting, Super Giants handed Karan an IPL debut at the expense of legspinner Ravi Bishnoi.
On Tuesday, Karan came into the action almost immediately when Shubman Gill's attempted cut flew low to third man, where he grassed an opportunity sliding forward. On 0 then, Gill batted through the innings to make 63 not out to help Gujarat Titans post 144 fir 4 after they elected to bat first.
Then, having walked in at No. 4, Karan had the opportunity to make an early impression, but lasted all of four deliveries. After two dots, he punched his Uttar Pradesh team-mate Yash Dayal through the covers to open his account but fell off the next delivery when he steered an attempted cut straight to short third.
Later in the game, left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore bowled his first over for Titans. It was an emotional moment for the 25-year-old, who had warmed the bench for three seasons at Chennai Super Kings prior to this. A key bowler for Tamil Nadu, much of Sai Kishore's success as a T20 bowler had come as a smart powerplay operator. Here, he was brought in during the middle overs, and struck off his fifth delivery when he beat an advancing Ayush Badoni to have him stumped. The roar afterwards told you how much it meant. He ended with figures of 2-0-7-2.
Hardik vs Krunal, part 2
In the first meeting between the two sides, Krunal dismissed Hardik early, but refrained from celebrating too exuberantly.
Today, Hardik comfortably knocked Krunal around for singles even as the left-arm spinner varied his flight and angles on a surface with good bounce. Later, in Titans' defence, Hardik brought Rashid into the attack as soon as Krunal came in to bat to try and avert a top-order wobble, but he didn't last long.
Rashid came into the game with a favourable match-up against Krunal, having dismissed him twice in 17 balls while conceding just 16 runs. On Wednesday, he deceived him both in the air and off the pitch as an off-balance Krunal misread the line of the wrong'un to be stumped for 5. That left Super Giants at a precarious 45 for 4.
Rashid on a roll
He was taking catches, constantly giving Hardik suggestions from the infield, and taking wickets when it came to his part of the bargain. The typical fizz, the wrong'uns, and the sharp turn from a length were all part of a spell that brought him figures of 4 for 26, his best in the IPL. He set the game up with Krunal's wicket, setting him up for a legbreak only to slip in the wrong'un and have him stumped. Jason Holder played down the wrong line to fall to a ripping legbreak, and the set Deepak Hooda, who was involved in a mix-up that led to the dismissal of Marcus Stonis, top-edged a sweep to short fine leg. Rashid then topped it off by dismissing Avesh Khan, whose hoick resulted in a thin inside edge through to Saha as the playoffs spot was sealed.