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Turning Points: RR Spinners Choke GT; Sanju-Hety Stand

April 17, 2023 11:15 IST

IMAGE: Yuzvendra Chahal's dismissal of Hardik Pandya saw Gujarat Titans lose momentum in the middle overs. Photograph: BCCI

Another night, another roller-coast ride in the Indian Premier as the Rajasthan Royals returned from the brink to take down Gujarat Titans by 3 runs with four balls to spare in Ahmedabad on Sunday, April 16, 2023.

After putting GT into bat and coming out to chase 178 for victory, it looked nothing like how things finished for Rajasthan on Sunday night.

The match was layered with moments that kept spectators entertained while players and coaches sweated and plotted under pressure.

Even the otherwise chilled GT Coach Ashish Nehra was seen speaking animatedly to Hardik Pandya and Rahul Tewatia before Shimron Hetmyer's home run.

Gujarat got off to a bright start thanks to Shubman Gill who played positively even as he lost Wriddhiman Saha and Sai Sudharsan early.

Hardik joined Gill in the middle and the duo pierced the field to find the boundaries while also rotating the strike. They put a quick 58-run stand before Yuzvendra Chahal struck in the 11th over with the GT captain's big wicket.

Chahal ended the evening reclaiming the Purple Cap -- he now tallies 11 wickets from 5 matches.

With the way things were shaping, 200 was on the cards, but the RR spinners put the brakes on the scoring from overs 11 to 15 with just 31 runs and a wicket coming in those overs.

David Miller was put down off Adam Zampa on 6 and he went on the rampage with some help from Abhinav Manohar (27 off 13). Miller was out in the last over for 46.

The average score in T20Is at the Narendra Modi stadium is 163 and those quiet middle overs by the RR spinners helped restrict GT to a par score of 177.

IMAGE: Shimron Hetmyer and Sanju Samson posted a match-turning 59-run stand. Photograph: BCCI

Now chasing big runs is not a problem for teams provided they get a good start and with Mohammed Shami and Hardik starting their spells with venom, RR's start to the chase was nothing short of horrific.

At 66 for 4 in 12 overs, Rajasthan were staring into the abyss with another loss to Gujarat looming.

But as if a magic spell was cast with Shimron Hetmyer at the crease, RR started finding the boundaries with Sanju Samson and the Windies T20 specialist smacking Rashid Khan and Alzarri Joseph for 35 runs in 2 overs to bring themselves back into the reckoning.

Samson was dismissed by debutant Afghan Noor Ahmed, but not before smashing him for 13 runs.

New man Dhruv Jurel did not let the tempo drop as he played perfect foil to Hety at the other end. Jurel found boundaries himself, but allowed Hetmyer the strike and he obliged, as he smoked the great Rashid Khan for 13 runs to bring down the equation to 24 off 12 balls.

Just when it looked like the duo would complete the task, there was another twist.

Jurel was dismissed by Shami in the 19th over. Ashwin then clobbered 10 runs off three balls before his dismissal to make things easier for Hetmyer who took his team home with a six and 4 balls to spare.

Samson and Hetmyer's partnership and Jurel and Ashwin's cameos were the moments of play that turned the tide for Rajasthan.

GT will look back at their drop in momentum in the batting in the crucial middle overs that cost them eventually.