Defending champions Gujarat Titans once again came up with a clinical display to prevail over Kolkata Knight Riders by seven wickets and climb to the top of the table in the IPL, in Kolkata on Saturday.
It was sweet revenge for Titans, who lost their home game due to Rinku Singh’s heroics. The Titans’ pace duo of Mohammad Shami (3/33) and Josh Little (2/25) picked five wickets between them, while left-arm spinner Noor Ahmad (2/21) continued his fine run to restrict KKR to a below-par 179/7 after Hardik Pandya opted to bowl.
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On a batting-friendly strip, Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s scintillating 39-ball 81 set the tempo, but KKR managed just 45 runs and lost three wickets in the final five overs to miss the psychological 200-run mark. Returning to the side after Jason Roy pulled out because of a back spasm, the Afghanistan opener struck his second fifty of the season as he smashed seven sixes and five fours en route to his 39-ball knock.
A 🔝 of the Table victory in Kolkata for the @gujarat_titans 🙌🏻
They ace the chase yet again to register their fourth away win in a row 👏🏻👏🏻
Scorecard ▶️ https://t.co/iOYYyw2zca #TATAIPL | #DCvSRH pic.twitter.com/sR5TSGeJ94
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 29, 2023
But once rookie Afghanistan spinner Noor Ahmed (4-0-21-2) dismissed his teammate with compatriot Rashid Khan completing a well-judged catch, KKR didn’t make good use of the final few overs as Mohammed Shami (3/33 in 4 overs) and Irishman Josh Little (2/25 in 4 overs) did play their part to perfection.
At 135/5, KKR had the firepower of Andre Russell and Rinku Singh with 28 balls to go. But Rinku became Noor’s second victim, while birthday boy Russell could not express himself fully with GT bowlers doing well to restrict him for a 19-ball 34 not out (2×4, 3×6).
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In reply, GT raced to the target in 17.5 overs with Vijay Shankar remaining unbeaten on 51 off 24 balls (2×4, 5×6). Defending the paltry total, the home side had their moments when they dismissed a flawless Shubman Gill one run shy of fifty and almost had David Miller on 26.
But they made a harakiri of sorts as Millers skier, which would have been a straightforward catch by their wicketkeeper, was attempted by Suyash Sharma from third man and he ended up grassing it. GT at that time still needed 51 runs from 29 balls but it turned out to be a game-changing moment as Shankar and Miller (32 not out; 18b, 2×4, 2×6) sealed the issue in an unbroken 87-run unbroken partnership that came off 39 balls.
The win took GT to top spot in the table with 12 points from eight matches as they need to win two more matches to seal the playoff berth for a second time on the trot. KKR, on the other hand, is staring at early elimination after enduring their sixth defeat from nine matches as they now face must win all their remaining five matches.
(With Agency inputs)