Images from the IPL 2023 match between Gujarat Titans and Rajasthan Royals at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
West Indies' batter Shimron Hetmyer unleased his full fury on Gujarat Titans as Rajasthan Royals defeated the reigning champions by three wickets with four balls remaining in the IPL 2023 match on Sunday.
With the win, the Royals have broken the jinx of not having previously beaten the Hardik Pandya-led side in three outings as they top the table with eight points.
The victory will be all the more sweet considering the 2008 IPL champions were reduced to 4/2 at one stage, losing Yashasvi Jaiswal (4) and Jos Buttler (0), and were able to manage just 26 runs in the first six overs of Powerplay.
The 26-year-old Hetmyer turned the complexion of the game, smashing an unbeaten 26-ball 56. The knock was studded with two fours and five maximums, and came at a time when things looked uphill for the Sanju Samson-led side.
Samson blazed away to 60 off 32 balls.
Pacers Mohammed Shami and Hardik Pandya had bowled well as Gujarat Titans made early inroads and pushed the Royals into a tight corner.
With 177 not looking like an imposing total to defend by any yardstick -- against a team packed with batting stars like Buttler, Jaiswal, Samson and Devdutt Padikkal -- the best option for Shami and Pandya was to make the ball talk.
Long after Shubman Gill (45) and Pandya (28) had come together to pull the Titans out of trouble with their 59-run partnership, the skipper bowled tirelessly in tandem with Mohammed Shami, whose searing pace and swing flummoxed the RR top-order batters.
Pandya induced Jaiswal to play an absurd short with the batter opening the face of the bat to a delivery outside the off stump to give Gill catching practice in the slips.
With pressure mounting in the Powerplay -- and with the high standards the Royals have set in those make-or-break first six overs -- Buttler committed himself tentatively to a stroke he would otherwise not play.
The England while-ball skipper shuffled across his stumps to a delivery seaming in toward off stump and missed an attempted scoop over fine leg, resulting in his off stump being uprooted from the ground.
It left the pair of Padikkal and Samson with the unenviable task of rebuilding the house from scratch. The 26 runs the Royals scored in the Powerplay was a testament to the nagging length Pandya and Shami bowled.
But then the rebuilding work stated in true earnest, with Samson and Padikkal (26) involved in a 43-run partnership and then the skipper forging a 59-run stand with Riyan Parag (5). The Hetmyer-Dhruv Jurel partnership then blossomed towards the business end with the West Indian doing the bulk of the scoring.
Ravichandran Ashwin also played a crucial cameo, hitting Shami for a six and a four in the 19th over before he fell for a quickfire 10 from three balls.
Earlier Shubman Gill's cool demeanour in the face of adversity and skipper Hardik Pandya's quick understanding of the situation again came to the fore as their half-century stand helped Gujarat Titans post 177/7.
South African left-handed batter David Miller (46 off 30 balls) and Abhinav Manohar (27 off 13) provided the final flourish, with a 45-run partnership, which was studded with three boundaries and five maximums.
Gill (45) and Pandya (28) came together at a time when the powerplay score seemed far from ideal. And, with two players back in the dugout, the defending champions seemed vulnerable. The 59-run partnership, not just infused life into the match, it also helped the defending champions launch a full-scale onslaught in the death overs.
With 42/2 at the end of powerplay and Wriddhiman Saha (4) and young Sai Sudarshan (20) going cheaply, it was left to the captain and one of his most trusted team-mates to turn things around for the Titans.
Initially, Gill played the waiting game, getting off the mark off the last ball of the third over, by smashing an effortless boundary through extra cover off a length delivery from New Zealand pace bowler Trent Boult.
Pandya and Gill picked the seventh and eighth overs, bowled by Adam Zampa and Ravichandran Ashwin, for some special treatment, with the Titans skipper spanking a six and a four off the Australian in the seventh, and the pair milking 17 off the eight over bowled by Ashwin.
The Titans were off to an inauspicious start with opener Saha falling cheaply. The Bengal cricketer, after dispatching a full toss from Boult to the ropes, was out next ball by getting a leading edge that went miles up in the air.
It was not the dismissal but the manner in which the catch was taken that left the crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium in peals of laughter.
Wicketkeeper Sanju Samson charged forward from behind the stumps, while West Indian Shimron Hetmyer too came rushing in from from square leg. Dhruv Jurel raced in from point. It's a miracle that none of them suffered an injury.
Samson got his gloves to the ball and collided with Hetmyer with the ball popping out of the gloves and into the air. Boult, who had positioned himself some distance away from the trio, was alert enough to pouch the rebound.
The left-handed Surdarshan, after playing a couple of exquisite shots -- one off a swinging Boult delivery that curled away slightly and was driven past the non-striker to the mid-on boundary -- departed on 20, run out, thanks to a quick throw from Jos Buttler.
Samson was quick to rip off the bails with video reviews showing the youngster had been caught inches from the crease. The success, off Zampa's bowling brought Gill and Pandya at the crease. And, till the time they remained, the cricket was regaling.
In the 11th over, Pandya, attempting a heave off wily spinner Yuzvendra Chahal over long-on only, produced a top-edge which flew to Yashasvi Jaiswal at extra cover.
Gill too departed 30 runs later, and at 121/4 in the 16th over, things again started looking wobbly for the Titans. But South Miller and Manohar, who came in place of Vijay Shankar, gave the perfect finishing touches with their lofty hitting.