Hardik Pandya led from the front with a brilliant unbeaten 87 (52b, 8×4, 4×6) to set up a comprehensive 37-run win for Gujarat Titans over Rajasthan Royals at the D.Y. Patil Stadium here on Thursday.
His knock enabled the Titans to post 192 for four before the bowling attack, led by pacer Lockie Ferguson (three for 23) did the job of defending the total despite Jos Buttler’s heroics in the PowerPlay.
It could have been a different story for the Royals, whose chase started sensationally when Buttler laid the platform with a brutal onslaught, scoring 54 off just 24 balls (8×4, 3×6).
The opener slammed three boundaries in the first over off Mohammed Shami before launching into debutant left-arm pacer Yash Dayal.
AS IT HAPPENED:
RR vs GT Highlights, IPL 2022: Gujarat Titans beats Rajasthan Royals by 37 runs to top points table
The youngster felt the brunt of Buttler’s hitting, being driven through covers, pulled over the leg-side and scooped over fine leg.
The Englishman took Dayal for five fours and two sixes over two overs and got to his half-century with a scoop for six off Ferguson over fine leg.
However, the Kiwi bowler had the last laugh as he castled Buttler with a brilliant slow yorker the very next ball at the end of the sixth over.
After that, the Royals struggled to find any momentum, losing wickets regularly, and once Shimron Hetmyer’s cameo of 29 ended, it was virtually over for the former champion.
Earlier, Hardik was ably supported by Abhinav Manohar (43), with whom he added 86 runs off just 55 balls for the fourth-wicket.
Later, David Miller finally struck form with a quickfire unbeaten 31 (14b, 5×4, 1×6) to give the innings the final flourish.
Why did Ashwin bat at No. 3 against Gujarat Titans?
Asked to bat first, Titans got off poorly and were reduced to 15 for two by the third over, losing opener Matthew Wade and Vijay Shankar.
Skipper Hardik, who walked in at No. 4, however, wasted no time in finding the boundaries as he slammed pacer Kuldeep Sen for three fours in the fifth over to get his innings started.
After consolidating for a while, Hardik and Abhinav cut loose, taking on the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin. They put pressure on the Royals’ bowlers, who missed the services of Trent Boult.
The India all-rounder continued to be severe on Sen, slamming the pacer for two more fours in the 14th over, the second of which got him to his second consecutive half-century.
His partner, Abhinav, was impressive against leg-spinner Chahal in particular, hitting him for a couple of sixes and a four, keeping the momentum alive through the middle overs.
Miller then finished off the innings in style, hitting Sen – who had a miserable day – for 20 runs in the 19th over.
S. Dipak Ragavsportstar.thehindu.com