Gujarat Titans, who were not given much of a chance following the blockbuster auction in February this year, have had a Cinderella entry into the IPL 2022 playoffs.
With two league games remaining, the Hardik Pandya-led Titans qualified by hammering the Lucknow Super Giants by 62 runs in one of the most overpowering displays this season despite defending a par total.
The Titans’ self-belief was key as they restricted their opponents to just 82, defending just 144, largely thanks to the efforts of young Shubman Gill’s unbeaten 63, with spinner Rashid Khan accounting for four wickets and the likes of Yash Dayal and Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore taking two wickets each.
The Gujarat Titans won the toss and elected to bat on a field that seemed two-paced and unsuitable for strokeplay, but the Lucknow Super Giants bowlers also kept it tight, limiting the Titans to 144 for 4.
The Titans bowlers, on the other hand, outperformed their Lucknow counterparts. And, owing to some poor shot selection by the Lucknow batsmen, the Titans cleaned them out for 82 in 13.5 overs and cruised to a 62-run victory as mentioned before.
Shubman Gill led the Titans in scoring with an undefeated 63 off 49 balls, which was critical considering the game’s conclusion. Finisher Rahul Tewatia (22 not out) also contributed to Shubman’s unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 41.
Shubman was dismissed on the first ball he faced, off the bowling of Mohsin Khan, despite a difficult chance at third-man. Tewatia was also dropped on 10. But credit must be given to both batsmen for avoiding risky strokes and attempting to maximise scoring possibilities.
Later, with Yash Dayal eliminating Quinton de Kock and Karan Sharma (in his first game this season) and Mohammed Shami eliciting a miscued shot from skipper KL Rahul, Lucknow simply couldn’t recover.
Rashid Khan (4/24) took charge as quicks Shami and Dayal made early inroads. Rashid was lethal with his variations, which were assisted by Saha’s outstanding job behind the stumps.
The reason for Titans’ win were their composure under pressure.
After Avesh Khan dismissed both Matthew Wade (replacing Lockie Ferguson) and skipper Hardik Pandya, the Titans crawled to 51 for 3 in the 10th over.
But Shubman, who was working hard to get through the difficult period, made sure he stayed patient and didn’t worry too much about his strike rate.
Shubman for the partnerships he formed — first with David Miller (26), who gave the Titans a necessary 52 points, and subsequently with Tewatia — were more significant given the circumstances.