Shankar blazing fifty brings GT to top of IPL table

Indian Premier League 2023

Indian Premier League 2023

Gujarat Titans jumped to the top of the table with their third win in a row as they beat Kolkata Knight Riders in Match 39 of TATA IPL 2023 at the Eden Gardens.

Vijay Shankar’s momentum-changing knock of 51* off 24 balls coupled with supporting acts from Shubman Gill (49 off 35) and David Miller (32 off 18) helped GT chase down 180 after a collective bowling performance, led by Mohd. Shami (3/33), had restricted the home side to 179/7.

Chasing 180, GT’s Impact Player Shubman Gill got the away side off to a breezy start, hitting seven fours in the Powerplay, including three crunching fours through the covers, off Harshit Rana in the third over. It was Russell who provided the first breakthrough as Saha (10 off 10) miscued a slower one to mid-wicket. GT reached 52/1 at the end of six overs.

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Shubman Gill and Hardik Pandya got together, mixed caution with aggression and added 50 off 39 balls. Nitish Rana then brought back Harshit Rana in the 11th over and the move worked as he broke the partnership by trapping Hardik Pandya (26 off 20) LBW. One brought two as Narine dismissed the set Shubman Gill (49 off 35) who mistimed his loft to deep mid-wicket in the next over.

KKR kept things tight in the next couple of overs before David Miller injected the momentum back with consecutive sixes off Suyash Sharma to accumulate 18 from the over. Russell then came back and nearly had Miller but Suyash Sharma couldn’t hold on to a tough high swirling catch. It was a crucial moment in the game.

With 38 needed off 24, Vijay Shankar went after Varun Chakaravarthy, hammering three sixes to turn the tables and amass 24 off the over. That over put GT in the driver’s seat with the away side requiring 14 from 18.  Vijay Shankar kept going from strength to strength as he hit a four and a six off Nitish Rana and brought up his fifty off just 24 balls as GT chased down the target with 13 balls and seven wickets to spare.

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Shankar remained unbeaten on 51 off 24 while Miller remained not out on 32 off 18.

Earlier, Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya won the toss and elected to bowl. They made one change to their starting XI as Josh Little replaced Shubman Gill. They named Shubman Gill, KS Bharat, Sai Sudharsan, Shivam Mavi and Jayant Yadav as their substitutes.

Kolkata Knight Riders made three changes to the starting eleven as Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Shardul Thakur and Harshit Rana replaced Jason Roy (stiff back), Vaibhav Arora and Umesh Yadav (Hamstring problem). Suyash Sharma, Mandeep Singh, Anukul Roy, Tim Southee and Kulwant Khejroliya were named as their substitutes.

The Gujarat Titans bowlers started off well as Mohd. Shami and Hardik Pandya had N Jagadeesan play and miss a few times. Shami gave away just three runs in the first over. Jagadeesan looked to be aggressive but got a couple of edges which flew to third man for a couple of fours off Hardik Pandya. He cracked a couple of cuts off the middle through point for fours but his adventurous innings came to an end when he shuffled way across and looked to flick one off Shami but missed it and was trapped right in front. He opted to review it but replays showed the ball crashing onto the middle stump and the ball tracker showing all three reds.

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Rahmanullah though went on the counter-attack, swinging a couple of ball across the line, off Hardik Pandya, for two sixes in the fourth over. Gurbaz went after Shami in the next over smashing a four and a six off the first two balls of the fifth over but the experienced campaigner that is Shami, bounced back hard to dismiss Shardul Thakur, who was promoted at No.3, off the last ball of the over as Mohit Sharma pulled off a splendid catch running backwards. Despite the fall of two wickets, Gurbaz continued his attacking ways as he smacked a six straight down the ground and then swiped one over short fine leg for a four off Rashid Khan to make it 13 off the over and take KKR to 61/2 at the end of the Powerplay.

The GT bowlers pulled things back post the Powerplay, conceding just 23 runs from four overs. Gurbaz brought up his fifty off just 27 balls as KKR reached 84/2 at the halfway mark. GT reaped the rewards of building the pressure as Josh Little sent back Venkatesh Iyer and Nitish Rana in the same over. Iyer was trapped LBW trying to scoop one and missing it and in process losing the second review as well and Rana hit one straight to backward point.

Gurbaz got going again with a couple of sixes and he then attacked Rashid Khan again hitting him for a sx down the ground and heaving one through mid-wicket for a four to make it 17 off the over. Noor got the huge wicket of Gurbaz (81 off 39) in the next over as he had him caught at deep mid-wicket via a brilliant catch from Rashid Khan. Noor bowled a superb 16th over, giving away just three and dismissing the dangerous Gurbaz.

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Russell then got into the groove, smashing a couple of sixes off Rashid Khan who had a rare off day and went for 54 from his fours overs without taking a wicket. Noor took another crucial wicket as he had Rinku Singh caught at long off in the next over. Wiese and Russell provided the final surge, hitting 23 off the last two overs to propel KKR to 179/7.

Russell was caught at deep point off the last ball of the innings but he had done his job by cracking 34 off 19 on his birthday.

GT introduced Shubman Gill as their Impact Player, replacing Mohit Sharma while KKR brought on Suyash Sharma as their Impact Player, replacing Venkatesh Iyer at the start of the second innings.