IPL 2023: Titans conquer Kings in tournament opener

Gaikwad’s 92 in vain as Gill and Rashid power defending champs Titans to victory in the season opener

Published: 01st April 2023 09:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th April 2023 12:19 PM   |  A+A-

Gujarat Titans players celebrate CSK all-rounder Moeen Ali’s wicket on Friday. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  Ruturaj Gaikwad loves playing in the yellow jersey in Ahmedabad. His last three knocks in the city before Friday were all 100s (220 off 159, 168 off 126 and 108 off 131). Sure, it had come in a different format and for a different team (Maharashtra in the knockouts of the Vijay Hazare Trophy) but these things matter. 

The Chennai Super Kings opener, in a display of six-hitting that married timing and supreme back-foot play, showed his understanding of the pitch and dimension remained intact. If the pre-match fireworks were provided by Arijit Singh, Tamanna Bhatia and Rashmika Mandanna among other performers, Gaikwad lit the stage in the first half of the opening match of the 16th edition of the Indian Premier League, his 92 helping the four-time champions reach 178. However, it wasn’t enough as Shubman Gill (63 off 36) and Rashid Khan (10 n.o off 3 balls) helped Gujarat Titans start the tournament with a five-wicket win in the last over. 

Put into bat, Chennai Super Kings had a poor start losing Devon Convey cheaply. Thereafter, Gaikwad and Moeen Ali steadied the rocking boat with a calculated assault. Gaikwad reserved some special treatment for Josh Little, the first active Irish cricketer to play in the franchise league, He later square-drove the same bowler to the fence to show his class.

To contain the flow of boundaries, Hardik Pandya brought in Rashid Khan and was soon rewarded, snuffling both Ali as well as Ben Stokes in his first spell. Despite wickets falling at the other end, Gaikwad did not curtail his stroke play, hitting West Indian Alzarri Joseph for three sixes in an over and in the process reached his 50.

The stand between Gaikwad and Ambati Rayudu for the fourth wicket worth 51 runs was the best. Here Rayudu’s contribution was just 12 runs. Gaikwad waged a lone battle and scored at every given opportunity. He was the only one who could counter Rashid effectively. A pull-off Rashid where the ball zoomed into the mid-wicket fence helped him get into the 90s. While on 92 Gaikwad pulled a full toss from Joseph straight into the hands of Gill at long-on. After confirming with the third umpire Gaikwad was adjudged out as the ball was below his waist. Thus a brilliant innings came to an end. Skipper MS Dhoni provided the final thrust in the last over with a six and a four. 

In reply, last year’s champion started off well with a Gill putting on a batting masterclass as the India opener showed why he is one of the world-class batting talents at the moment. The short-arm jabs, pulls, cover drives, backfoot punches, any shot you name it, Gill played it all, setting up the chase with a 36-ball 63. When he got out, Rahul Tewatia (15 n.o) and Rashid ensured that Titans got across the line with four balls to spare. Also, Kane Williamson, who suffered a seemingly nasty injury to his knee while attempting a catch on the leg-side, was replaced by Impact Player, Sai Sudharsan. For Chennai, Tushar Deshpande came in as the substitute, replacing Rayudu.

Brief scores: CSK 178/7 in 20 overs (Gaikwad 92; Shami 2/29, Rashid 2/26) lost to GT 182/5 in 19.2 overs (Gill 63, Vijay Shankar 27).


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