Opener Shubman Gill notched up his second half-century of IPL 2023 while fast bowler Mohit Sharma marked his comeback in the tournament with a stellar spell to lead the way for Gujarat Titans to beat Punjab Kings by six wickets at the IS Bindra PCA Stadium on Thursday.
Thursday's victory is Gujarat's third win of the ongoing season and takes them to third place on the points table, while Punjab were handed their second loss of the tournament. Mohit, a previous Purple Cap winner in the IPL, was a net bowler for Gujarat in clinching their maiden title last year.
On Thursday, he shone through with his 2-18 in four overs, bowling slower balls and maintaining tight lines. Mohit also bowled 12 dot balls, as he led a clinical bowling performance from Gujarat to restrict Punjab to 153/8.
The defending champions were on course for a comfortable chase, thanks to Gill's serene 67 off 49 balls, laced with seven fours and a six. With seven runs needed off the final over, after Arshdeep Singh conceded only six runs in the 19th, Gill survived a run-out chance, before Sam Curran uprooted his off-stump on the very next ball, bringing sudden tension into the match.
After Curran nailed two back-to-back yorkers, David Miller completed the second run with a desperate dive. With four runs needed off the last two balls, Rahul Tewatia calmly finished off the chase by moving across and scooping a full ball from Curran over short fine leg for four to seal the deal for Gujarat with a ball to spare.
Gujarat were off to a flier as Gill eased into a cover drive off Arshdeep for four. Wriddhiman Saha launched into Arshdeep by driving, whipping, pulling and slicing with disdain to take four boundaries in the third over.
But a bouncer from Rabada in the fifth over saw Saha pulling straight to deep square leg, giving the fast bowler his 100th IPL wicket. Sai Sudharsan immediately got going with a delightful punch through point for four.
Sudharsan and Gill kept the scoreboard ticking through strike rotation, with the latter taking two boundaries off Rahul Chahar through a cut and lofting inside-out over extra cover. But Sudharsan fell in the 12th over, pulling straight to deep fine leg. Three overs later, Hardik Pandya holed out to long-on off Harpreet Brar.
Gill brought up his fifty in the 16th over with a nonchalant lofted cover drive off Chahar. He left fans astonished by playing a tennis-like forehand that flew past the non-striker off Curran for four and stood tall to pull Rabada nonchalantly over a deep square leg for six. Though he fell in the final over, Tewatia ensured Gujarat got over the line.
Earlier, at the end of the powerplay, Punjab were cruising at 52/2. But Gujarat's bowlers, led by Mohit, gave away only 42 runs in the middle overs and picked four wickets in the last five overs to keep Punjab to a below-par total. 50% of the deliveries bowled by Gujarat's fast bowlers were on short/back-of-length regions, thus limiting Punjab's run flow as they played 56 dot balls in their innings.
Prabhsimran Singh fell for his second consecutive duck, flicking to mid-wicket off Mohammed Shami. Matthew Short got going by striking Shami for back-to-back fours through punch and pull shots.
Shikhar Dhawan looked majestic in slicing and driving Joshua Little through the off-side. But the left-arm pacer had the last laugh, as Dhawan danced down the pitch for a flick, but ended up skying to a backtracking mid-on.
Short looked glorious in driving Shami twice through cover, while glancing and pulling off Alzarri Joseph for four and six. He ended the power-play with a straight drive down the ground off Little. His knock came to an end when he missed a googly from Rashid Khan and saw the ball crashing into stumps.
With Gujarat tightening the run-flow through consistent hitting of length balls, Jitesh Sharma used Rashid's pace to pull twice and paddle sweep once to get three boundaries. He welcomed Shami with a straight drive down the ground and survived an inside edge to get a brace of fours in the 12th over.
Jitesh fell in the 13th over off Mohit, missing a punch against a back of the length ball which just moved away a little. Saha, who caught the ball and was the only one appealing, managed to convince Hardik to take a review, which showed a thin outside edge.
Four overs later, Rajapaksa's painful stay at the crease ended when he chipped a full toss from Joseph straight to deep mid-wicket. Curran went for a pull off an off-cutter from Mohit, but found deep mid-wicket.
Shahrukh Khan got some cheer from the Mohali crowd by pulling Joseph over deep midwicket for six, before lofting a low full toss from Shami over long-on for same result. He ramped a slower ball from Mohit over short third, before Harpreet's straight six down the ground took Punjab above 150.
Punjab Kings 153/8 in 20 overs (Matthew Short 36, Jitesh Sharma 25; Mohit Sharma 2-18, Rashid Khan 1-26) lost to Gujarat Titans 154/4 in 19.5 overs (Shubman Gill 67, Wriddhiman Saha 30; Harpreet Brar 1-20, Sam Curran 1-25) by six wickets