Navi Mumbai: After Hardik Pandya became the first skipper to bat first on winning the toss against Kolkata Knight Riders on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the D.Y Patil Stadium, it was the enviable bowling attack that helped them defend 156 to win by eight runs and move to the top of the points table.
For Gujarat, it was a sensational win after Pandya top-scored with his third successive IPL fifty, a 49-ball 67, laced with four fours and two sixes. But the batters around and after him completely lost their way in the final five overs, losing seven wickets for just 29 runs.
It was the bowling attack, led by Mohammed Shami, Yash Dayal and Lockie Ferguson who picked four wickets collectively in the first seven overs, paving the way for the Gujarat defence. Though Kolkata attempted to chase down the total with Andre Russell striking sixes, him falling to Alzarri Joseph in the final over sealed the fate in Gujarat’s favour.
With a new opening combination in Sam Billings and Sunil Narine, Kolkata’s hopes of a blistering start began well when the former brought out a glorious straight drive against Shami. But Shami had the last laugh as Billings top-edged a pull to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha. Shami had his second wicket in power-play as Sunil Narine pulled uncomfortably to a diving short fine leg.
Nitish Rana fell cheaply, forced to poke at a Ferguson delivery and took a healthy edge behind to Saha as Gujarat successfully overturned a not-out decision. Shreyas Iyer had begun to look comfortable at the crease but was undone by the over-the-wicket angle from Dayal and nicked behind to Saha.
Rinku Singh found the boundary rope five times in his stay of 35 and shared a 45-run stand with Venkatesh Iyer. But in an attempt to smash Dayal over mid-wicket, Rinku could only manage a bottom edge going behind to Saha. Venkatesh tried to slog-sweep Rashid Khan but Abhinav Manohar took a stunning catch just in front of the deep mid-wicket boundary rope.
In between, Russell got his first boundary with a thickish edge off Dayal over Saha’s head. On the next ball, Russell tried to fend off a Dayal bouncer with his bat but the ball flew straight off his bat to fine leg. But Dayal’s jubilation was cut short as replays showed front-foot no-ball. Russell rubbed salt into wounds by thumping Dayal for back-to-back sixes to end an eventful 13th over.
Russell then smacked a Ferguson full toss over long-off. Khan got out Shivam Mavi and almost had Umesh Yadav lbw with the googly but replays showed the ball was missing the stumps. With 45 needed off 24 balls, Russell uppercut Shami over backward point for six. Umesh cleared his front leg to swat Ferguson over deep mid-wicket for six more.
Russell hit a six down the ground off Dayal but could manage only five runs off the rest of the over for the equation to read 18 off the final over. On the first ball, Russell smashed a Joseph full toss over long-on for a huge six. But Joseph had the last laugh as Russell mistimed a pull to fine leg immediately. That turned out to be a decisive blow for Kolkata as Gujarat sealed a close win.
Earlier, Tim Southee provided the first breakthrough with his first ball, forcing Shubman Gill (7) to nick behind to Billings. Pandya promoted himself to three from his usual number four position and the decision began to pay off when he smacked Southee for back-to-back fours in the off-side. He got ample support from Saha, who crunched Umesh for a six and four through the leg side.
Post-power-play, Pandya continued to be the aggressor, ramping Mavi for a cheeky six over fine leg, followed by an extra cover drive for four and welcoming Varun Chakravarthy with a clean, lofted six over long-off.
Pandya and Saha built an important stand of 75 off 56 balls for the second wicket, which was broken by Umesh in the eleventh over as Saha fell for a run-a-ball 25, in an attempt to repeat the paddle scoop which got him a four on the previous delivery.
David Miller had luck on his side when Venkatesh Iyer took a catch at long-off but his foot brushed the boundary rope, gifting the left-hander a lucky six off Sunil Narine. Narine was further taken apart for a four and six by Miller after Pandya reached his fifty in 36 balls.
Just as it looked like Gujarat would cruise to a 180+ total, Miller was foxed by an off-cutter from Mavi, giving a simple catch to backward point. Southee came back to dismiss Pandya, who pulled straight to deep mid-wicket and three balls later, Khan fell for a duck while trying to clear the same region.
Russell, who hadn’t bowled in the match, was brought on for the final over and dismissed Manohar, Ferguson and Rahul Tewatia by getting them caught in the deep and closed the innings with an alert caught and bowled dismissal of Dayal.
Brief scores: Gujarat Titans 156/9 in 20 overs (Hardik Pandya 67, David Miller 27; Andre Russell 4/5, Tim Southee 3/24) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 148/8 in 20 overs (Andre Russell 48, Rinku Singh 35; Mohammed Shami 2/20, Rashid Khan 2/22) by eight runs