The manner in which the Gujarat Titans (GT) were battered in their previous game, with Rinku Singh stealing the spotlight and giving Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) a spectacular win, made their game against the Punjab Kings (PBKS) an interesting proposition.
Would the defending champions bounce back in style or would they show that the result in the last game had shaken up their belief system?
But on evidence of their show on Thursday night, if you are a GT fan, then you can rest easy. Leaving behind the disappointing loss, Hardik Pandya’s team made a fine return to form, carving out an impressive six-wicket win against PBKS who were unable to capitalise on their home advantage.
Full marks to GT captain Pandya’s for using his five bowlers well. His words during the toss showed that they had taken the defeat in the right spirit, “It was one in a million game. We can take that kind of a game with a smile, it is all good. We played fantastic cricket last game (referring to the loss against KKR). These things happen. We could have done a few things better, but fresh game, we will not go back to those.”
The GT bowlers struck to their job and restricted PBKS to 153/8. With Yash Dayal (who had been on the receiving end against KKR) not in the playing XI at Mohali, GT’s pacers Mohammed Shami, Josh Little, Mohit Sharma and Alzarri Joseph bowled a disciplined line and length and did not allow the PBKS batters to free their arms.
The bowling performance must have had head coach and the pace bowling coach Ashish Nehra’s smiling after the KKR game fiasco.
While GT bowlers bowled 56 dot balls to show their class and control over the game, leg-spinner Rashid Khan rolled his arm to bowl the maximum 13 dot balls out of the total 56 to make an impact. Sharma, on his return to IPL and making his GT debut, was the most economical. He picked up 2 for 18 off his four overs and rattled PBKS in the middle overs.
Chasing 153, GT showed intent and finished off the things in 19.5 overs, with David Miller (17) and Rahul Tewatia (5) at the crease. Shubman Gill was the star for GT as he scored 67 off 49 balls to propel the side. He was clean bowled by Sam Curran in the last over of the match. Needing seven off the last over, Tewatia finished off the game with a four to his name.
Earlier, Kagiso Rabada coming in for Nathan Ellis removed Wriddhiman Saha (30) while Arshdeep Singh and Harpreet Brar accounted for Sai Sudharshan (19) and Hardik Pandya (8), respectively. 20 more runs from PBKS would have set up the match nicely as their bowlers bowled tightly in the death overs.
Put in to bat first, PBKS who had beaten KKR in their last home game by seven runs through DLS method, lacked the urgency to score at a fast pace. Once captain and hero for the home team in the previous matches Shikhar Dhawan was back in the dug-out, it became difficult for PBKS batters to get going.
Shami removed Prabhsimran Singh for a duck off the second ball of the first over and Ireland import Little bagged the prize wicket of Dhawan (8) within the powerplay to give GT an edge.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa was rather slow and made 20 off 26 balls and Jitesh Sharma contributed 25 off 23. The costliest buy in the history of IPL Sam Curran made 22 off 22. It was a 9-ball 22 from Shahrukh Khan along with 24-ball 36 from BBL star Mathew Short got the Kings over the 150-mark.
Taking on Lucknow SuperGiants in their next game, PBKS would be hoping to get Liam Livingstone into their playing XI. While GT are back to their winning ways, knowing that their method works. Not that they ever doubted it.