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At one point, it seemed like chasing 136 would turn out to be a walk in the park for Lucknow Super Giants. A wicketless power-play, captain KL Rahul making fifty, Gujarat Titans dropping two catches and needing 31 runs off 36 balls with nine wickets in hand, everything was literally going their way for a victory at home.
But Gujarat's bowlers, led by Mohit Sharma, Noor Ahmad, who picked two wickets each along with experienced Shami, produced top-notch bowling on a slow pitch with relentless accuracy to defend 135 and help the reigning champions pull off a miraculous seven-run victory in Match No 30 of the IPL 2023 at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, here on Saturday.
Such was the choke effect from Gujarat's bowlers that Lucknow were unable to hit a boundary in the last 45 balls of their chase. Questions will be asked of Rahul, who looked good in reaching his fifty in 38 balls, but managed to get his next 18 runs off 23 balls as Lucknow were restricted to 128/7 in 20 overs, as Gujarat left them stunned to record their first win of IPL 2023 while defending a total.
Rahul reached his fifty in 38 balls with a single through long-on off Rahul Tewatia, followed by Krunal hoicking the spinner cleanly over long-on for six. Rahul got a life on 55 when Vijay Shankar couldn't hold on to his catch at long-on.
Gujarat finally had a wicket when Krunal Pandya was easily stumped off Noor in the 15th over. After a slew of dot balls, Noor had another wicket in the 17th over when Nicholas Pooran top-edged a slog-sweep to Hardik.
Mohit mixed yorkers and slower balls very well to concede just six runs in the 18th over, as pressure increased on Lucknow. Shami produced an excellent boundary-less 19th over, conceding just five runs as Rahul struggled to put bat on ball.
With 12 runs needed off the final over, Rahul's struggle ended at 68 as he miscued a pull off a slower ball from Mohit to deep square leg. On the very next ball, the pacer had Marcus Stoinis holing out straight to long-on taking a stunning catch.
It was followed by run-outs of Ayush Badoni and Deepak Hooda as Mohit gave away just four runs in the final over, with as many wickets falling on the trot, giving Gujarat a spectacular victory. �
Earlier, Rahul began the chase by playing a maiden off Shami. In the fast bowler's second over, Rahul turned the tide by smashing a hat-trick of fours through two pulls and a slice through the off-side.
On the other hand, Kyle Mayers looked good in cutting and driving on the up for picking boundaries against impact player Jayant Yadav. Rashid Khan's introduction in the fifth over didn't yield desired result as Rahul pulled him for back-to-back boundaries, followed by Mayers dancing down the pitch and lofting over long-on for six.
After Rahul exquisitely pierced the gap between cover and mid-off with a nice punch off Mohit for four, Rashid bounced back by castling Mayers through the gate with a quicker delivery.
From there, Lucknow managed to get a boundary each from overs 8-11, with Rahul continuing to look sublime and Krunal supporting him very well, with the latter being aided by Abhinav Manohar dropping his catch at deep square leg in the ninth over. But after Krunal fell, the script dramatically fell in Gujarat's favour as Lucknow will be left wondering what went wrong.
Brief Scores: Gujarat Titans 135/6 in 20 overs (Hardik Pandya 66, Wriddhiman Saha 47; Krunal Pandya 2/16, Marcus Stoinis 2/20) beat Lucknow Super Giants 128/7 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 68, Kyle Mayers 24; Mohit Sharma 2/17, Noor Ahmad 2/18) by 7 runs