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If Rashid Doesn't Bowl Well, He Will Still Change The Game

May 08, 2023 10:28 IST
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Wriddhiman Saha struck his half-century in 20 balls, the quickest by a GT batter.

IMAGE: Wriddhiman Saha struck his half-century off 20 balls, the quickest by a Gujarat Titans batter. Photograph: BCCI

The flat as a pancake pitch is producing some big scores and lots of entertainment for spectators in the stadium, on Star Sports television, on OTT on Jio Cinema.

But that is also proving to be a headache for fielding teams with no target seemingly enough to defend.

The story was somewhat similar on Sunday, May 7, 2023 when Hardik Pandya's Gujarat Titans took on Krunal Pandya's Lucknow Super Giants -- a historic day for the Pandya household and in the IPL as the duo became the first siblings to lead an IPL team during a game.

Put in to bat, GT Openers Wriddhiman Saha and Shubman Gill got off to a blistering start, clobbering LSG's inexperienced bowling line-up; left-arm seamer Mohsin Khan and Yash Thakur getting plundered.

There was a lot of stick for Krunal and Avesh Khan too as GT raced to 78 for no loss at the end of the Powerplay.

Shubman Gill was unbeaten on 94

IMAGE: Shubman Gill was unbeaten on 94. Photograph: BCCI

Both batters looked in no mood to stop thereafter, the otherwise economical leggie Ravi Bishnoi also got some treatment and LSG looked clueless as GT raced to 121 for no loss at the half-way stage.

With no breakthrough in sight, it was baffling that Krunal persisted with Mohsin and Yash Thakur, but did not bring on Marcus Stoinis until the 15th over. The Aussie was given just one over!

Avesh finally broke the 142 run opening stand when Saha was dismissed for 81 off 43 in the 13th over. The damage had been done as GT breached the 150 run mark by the 14th over.

Hardik and Gill kept the momentum going with a brief but effective 42 run stand before David Miller and Gill put the final touches with lusty blows and 227 for 2 on the board -- the two IPL season old GT's highest total.

IMAGE: Hardik Pandya and his bowlers were a worried lot with LSG openers going great guns. Photograph: BCCI

Chasing 228 on a track that offered no assistance whatsoever to the bowlers would seem less for a challenge to the batters and more to the team defending and when Kyle Mayers and Quinton de Kock started to bat, it was another spell of entertaining cricket.

GT bowlers suffered a similar fate as their LSG counterparts with Mayers going at the speed of lightning; even Mohammad Shami, GT's best bowler this season, was taken to the cleaners.

De Kock-Mayers continued their onslaught on Hardik, smashing him for 15 runs and bringing up the 50 run stand in four overs. Rashid Khan put down Mayers at square leg in the same over to hand him a lifeline.

Hardik brought on Afghan spin duo Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad to stem the rot, but there was no breakthrough in sight as LSG raced to 72 for no loss after six overs.

IMAGE: Rashid Khan completed a wonderful running catch to dismiss Kyle Mayers and end LSG's opening stand. Photograph: BCCI

If Rashid doesn't come good with the ball, he is certain to shine in the field or with the bat. His value and legend grew more on Sunday with an effort that changed the game's route.

Hardik's and GT's frustration finally ended when Mohit Sharma was handed the ball. Mayers started the 9th over with a dot before he attempted a pull that ended his stay at the crease. Rashid made amends for dropping Mayers earlier with a fine catch -- he ran in across about 20 metres to his right and completed a diving catch at deep square leg to end the 88 run opening stand.

This magnificent effort dented LSG's chase as de Kock, who scored a half-century on his comeback to the LSG side, found no able ally thereafter.

LSG brought up the 100 in the 10th over, but with big shots drying up and wickets tumbling at regular intervals the momentum shifted big time in GT's favour.

Mohit finished with a four wicket haul, his team winning by 56 runs to cement their position at the top of the IPL 2023 points table.

Rashid Khan catch

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