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Gujarat keeps nerve, Royals start on winning note

Gujarat Titans’ captain Shubman Gill (R) celebrates with his teammate after winning the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Gujarat Titans and Mumbai Indians at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on March 24, 2024. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP) / — IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE — (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images)

Shajil KumarBy: Shajil Kumar

Gujarat Titans edged out Mumbai Indians by six runs in an IPL thriller on Sunday as Hardik Pandya suffered a defeat as Mumbai captain after he controversially replaced Rohit Sharma.

Rohit (43) and Dewald Brevis (46) shone in Mumbai’s chase of their 169 target with a third-wicket stand of 77 but Gujarat’s bowlers hit back to keep the opposition down 162-9 in Ahmedabad.

Millions of Mumbai fans had slammed the franchise for the captaincy switch as Pandya made his IPL debut for Mumbai under Rohit and later led Gujarat to a title in their debut season in 2022 at the same venue.

But it was celebration at the world’s biggest cricket stadium, named after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for new home team captain Shubman Gill who spoiled Pandya’s homecoming.

Commentators said close to 90,000 fans turned up at the 132,000 capacity arena.

Five-time champions Mumbai needed 48 from 36 balls with seven wickets in hand before going down to an opening loss.

“We backed ourselves to chase those 42 runs but it was one of those days where we lost the momentum,” said Pandya.

“It feels good to be back because this is one stadium you can enjoy, feel the atmosphere quite lively and obviously the crowd was full and they got a good game as well.”

Mohit Sharma took down Brevis, who came in as impact substitute, and then Tim David in successive overs before fellow quick Spencer Johnson struck twice in the 19th over to dent the chase further.

Rohit’s wicket in the 13th over off Sai Kishore also proved to be key for Gujarat.

Pandya attempted to go for the 19 runs needed in the last over with a six and a four off Umesh Yadav before being caught out on the third.

“I think the way the boys held their nerve, and the way we bowled in the death overs, especially with the dew coming in, I thought it was special,” said Gill.

Pandya, who has returned to competitive cricket after an ankle injury, bowled with the new ball and sent down three overs for 30 runs.

Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah came in first change to bowled Wriddhiman Saha with a trademark toe-crushing yorker and finished with figures of 3-14 in four overs to keep down Gujarat to 168-6.

His other two wickets included Sai Sudarshan, who top-scored with 45, and David Miller, who made 12.

Bumrah was ably supported by IPL debutant and South African quick Gerald Coetzee, who took two wickets after joining the franchise for $602,000 in the auction last year.

Samson blitz

In the first match of the day, Sanju Samson led from the front as Rajasthan Royals defeated Lucknow Super Giants by 20 runs in Jaipur.

Captain Samson hammered an unbeaten 82 off 52 balls to steer inaugural IPL champions Rajasthan to 193-4 after they elected to bat first.

New Zealand quick Trent Boult then struck two early blows to rattle the Lucknow batting, which finished on 173-6 despite an unbeaten 64 by West Indies’ Nicholas Pooran.

Lucknow, who made the play-offs in the last two seasons since their debut alongside Gujarat Titans in 2022, lost regular wickets but skipper KL Rahul attempted to keep the chase on track in his 44-ball 58 despite his slow start.

The left-handed Pooran then took charge and along with Rahul put on 85 runs for the fifth wicket but the asking rate kept climbing.

Rahul fell to Sandeep Sharma after his fifty and Marcus Stoinis’s departure left Pooran with a lot to do in the final few overs.

Samson took on the opposition attack and built key partnerships including a 93-run third-wicket stand with Riyan Parag, who made 43.

The Rajasthan innings witnessed a nearly 10-minute halt in the first over when a cable of the spidercam broke and technicians scurried to untangle the wires on the field.

 

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