Gujarat Titans first to make play-offs
An intriguing battle between bat and ball was the feature of the clash between the top two sides of IPL 2022 at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Tuesday.
Gujarat Titans won a good toss on a pitch that appeared two-paced and far from ideal for strokeplay, but the Lucknow Super Giants bowlers too kept it tight, restricting the Titans to 144 for 4.
However, the Titans bowlers outshone their Lucknow counterparts. And thanks to some poor shot selection by the Lucknow batsmen, the Titans bundled them out for 82 in 13.5 overs and romped home to a massive 62-run win.
The victory also made the Titans the first team to qualify for the play-offs, they sit at the top with 18 points. For Lucknow, Titans’ fellow IPL debutants, they are still on 16 points and need to win another game at least to confirm their place among the last four.
Opener Shubman Gill top-scored for the Titans with an unbeaten 63 off 49 balls, which was crucial given the outcome of the game. Finisher Rahul Tewatia (22 not out) also contributed in an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 41 with Shubman.
Shubman was let off in the very first ball he faced, off the bowling of Mohsin Khan, although it was a tough chance at third-man. Tewatia, too, was dropped on 10. But one has got to give it to both the batsmen for avoiding reckless shots and trying to make optimum use of the scoring opportunities.
Later, once Lucknow were three down inside the Powerplay, with Yash Dayal removing Quinton de Kock and Karan Sharma (in his maiden game this season), and Mohammed Shami inducing a miscued shot from captain KL Rahul, they just couldn’t recover.
Ace leg-spinner Rashid Khan (4/24) took over after quicks Shami and Dayal’s early inroads. Using his variations to superb effect, Rashid was deadly and was also aided by Saha’s good work behind the stumps.
Left-arm spinner R. Sai Kishore also struck with two wickets in his first game this season.
The Titans had limped to 51 for 3 in the 10th over after Avesh Khan accounted for both Matthew Wade (replacing Lockie Ferguson) and captain Hardik Pandya. But Shubman, doing all the hard work to get through the tough phase, ensured he remained patient without bothering too much about his strike rate.
Shubman hit only seven boundaries, but the partnerships he stitched — first with David Miller (26), which yielded the Titans a crucial 52, and then with Tewatia — were more important given the conditions on offer.