Chasing 136 was looking like a walk in the park for Lucknow Super Giants. A wicketless power-play, captain KL Rahul well-set after making fifty, Gujarat Titans dropping two catches and needing 31 runs off 36 balls with nine wickets in hand, everything was literally going their way for a victory.
But Mohit Sharma and Noor Ahmad picked two wickets each while Shami, despite not picking a wicket, played a crucial part in producing top-notch bowling on a slow pitch to successfully defend 135 and help Gujarat pull off a miraculous seven-run victory in Match No 30 of the IPL 2023 at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, here on Saturday.
Such was the relentless accuracy from Gujarat's bowlers in the back-end that Lucknow couldn't hit a boundary in the last 45 balls. Questions will be asked of Rahul, who looked good in reaching his fifty in 38 balls and had a strike-rate upwards of 150 in powerplay.
But after crossing fifty, Rahul managed to get his next 18 runs off 23 balls to eventually make 68 off 61 balls as Lucknow ended up with 128/7 in 20 overs, with Gujarat leaving them stunned to record their first win of IPL 2023 while defending a total.
The victory also means Gujarat are on par with Lucknow, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings on eight points, and at fourth place due to net run rate, while also managing to maintain their clean slate of victories over Lucknow in IPL.
Gujarat's turnaround tale began when Krunal Pandya was stumped off Noor in the 15th over. After a slew of dot balls, Noor had another wicket in the 17th over when Nicholas Pooran top-edged a slog-sweep to Hardik.
Mohit mixed yorkers and slower balls very well to concede just six runs in the 18th over, as pressure increased on Lucknow. Shami produced an excellent boundary-less 19th over, conceding just five runs.
With 12 runs needed off the final over, Mohit sealed the game in Gujarat's favour as Rahul mistimed a pull to deep square leg and Marcus Stoinis holed out to long-on on successive deliveries. It was followed by run-outs of Ayush Badoni and Deepak Hooda as Mohit gave away just four runs, giving Gujarat a spectacular victory from the jaws of defeat.
Earlier, Rahul began the chase by playing a maiden off Shami. In the fast bowler's second over, the LSG skipper turned the tide by smashing a hat-trick of fours. On the other hand, Kyle Mayers looked good in cutting and driving on the up for taking boundaries against impact player Jayant Yadav.
Rashid Khan's introduction in the fifth over didn't yield the desired result as Rahul pulled him for back-to-back boundaries, followed by Mayers dancing down the pitch to loft over long-on for six. After Rahul exquisitely pierced the gap between cover and mid-off with a nice punch off Mohit for four, Rashid bounced back by castling Mayers through the gate.
From there, Lucknow managed to get a boundary from overs 8-11, with Rahul looking sublime and Krunal supporting him very well, with the latter being aided by Abhinav Manohar dropping his catch in the ninth over.
Rahul reached his fifty in 38 balls with a single off Rahul Tewatia, followed by Krunal hoicking him cleanly over long-on for six. Rahul got a life on 55 when Vijay Shankar couldn't hold on to his catch at long-on. But after Krunal fell, the script dramatically fell in Gujarat's favour as Rahul and Lucknow were left wondering what went wrong.
Earlier, Gujarat's batters found it difficult to find their timing, barring captain Hardik's 66 off 50 balls and Wriddhiman Saha hitting 47 off 37 balls. Such was the difficulty in stroke play that Hardik was the only batter from Gujarat to hit all of their sixes in their innings.
Electing to bat first, they suffered a huge blow when Shubman Gill fell for a two-ball duck to Krunal. Saha took three quick fours off Krunal, Naveen-ul-Haq and Avesh Khan, before cutting on consecutive deliveries off Ravi Bishnoi for boundaries in the last over of power-play.
Saha nailed another cut off Stoinis for four, before Hardik, promoting himself to number three, made great use of fuller balls from Bishnoi to smash him over extra cover for four and hit a six over long-off. The 68-run partnership between Saha and Hardik came to an end in the 11th over when the former chipped straight to long-on.
Lucknow's slowdown effect then led to quick dismissals of Manohar and Shankar. But Hardik ended 4.2 overs of boundary drought by pulling Bishnoi for four, followed by smashing powerful sixes over deep mid-wicket and long-on, first of which fetched him his fifty in 44 balls in a 19-run over.
Hardik began the final over by pulling Stoinis for a flat six, before pulling a slower ball straight to long-on. Stoinis ended the innings by having David Miller hole out to long-on.
Brief Scores: Gujarat Titans 135/6 in 20 overs (Hardik Pandya 66, Wriddhiman Saha 47; Krunal Pandya 2/16, Marcus Stoinis 2/20) beat Lucknow Super Giants 128/7 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 68, Kyle Mayers 24; Mohit Sharma 2/17, Noor Ahmad 2/18) by 7 runs.
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