The usual buzz associated with the Indian Premier League matches at the Wankhede was missing on Monday. The second match at Wankhede Stadium in this year’s edition between the two new franchises, Gujarat Titans (GT) and Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), had many vacant seats among the permissible 25% of the stands despite having two of the crowd pullers in Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, leading their respective sides.
Sent in to bat, LSG put up a fight through their fifth-wicket pair of Deepak Hooda, who has a vast IPL experience of 80 matches before this game playing for three different franchises, and IPL debutant, Ayush Badoni from Delhi. Their 87-run partnership in 68 deliveries helped LSG reach 158 for six. From a dismal 29 for four in the fifth over, Hooda (55, 41b, 6x4, 2x6) and Badoni (54) scored fine half-centuries to give some respectability to the LSG total.
In the end, their partnership was overshadowed by Gujarat Titans’ fifth-wicket pair of left-handers David Miller (30, 21b, 1x4, 2x6) and Rahul Tewatia (40 not out, 24b, 5x4, 2x6) and their 60-run stand in 34 balls as Gujarat Titans’ hit big in the back end to win by five wickets with two balls in hand.
Gujarat Titans, however, did not begin well, losing opener Shubman Gill to the third ball and Vijay Shankar in the second over, both to Sri Lanka’s Dushmantha Chameera as they were reduced to 15 for two in the third over.
Skipper Hardik Pandya gave a good account of himself. Batting at number four, he timed his shots sweetly in the third wicket partnership of 57 with left-hander Mathew Wade (30) of Australia. Hardik’s 33 (28b, 5x4, 1x6) laid the platform for GT win, which was completed by Miller and Tewatia admirably.
Miller and Tewatia collected 22 runs off Hooda in the innings’ 16th to ease the pressure in the GT dug out. Though the equation was more runs and fewer balls, Tewatia’s boundaries saw GT home in the final over.
LSG, however, had themselves to blame for the poor start. Captain KL Rahul was done in by a first ball beauty he received from his team-mate at Punjab Kings until last year, Mohammed Shami, and ended up edging behind to Mathew Wade for a golden duck. Two overseas left-handers, Quinton de Kock (7) and Evin Lewis (10), who have had the Wankhede as their home ground after having played for Mumbai Indians in the past, did not make the most of the familiar conditions.
Shami again struck in his second over with another beauty, disturbing de Kock’s leg stump from around the wicket with one that angled in and beat the defensive South African while Lewis, who seemed to be settling down, top-edged Varun Aaron and the skier was brilliantly taken by Shubman Gill, running back from mid-wicket inside the circle and completing the take with a dive near the boundary, keeping his eyes on the ball all along. It is not easy running back and taking a skier, and Gill did everything right to make it look easy.
However, Gill did not translate this brilliance on the field into runs when his team’s turn to chase 159 came, throwing it away with a loose, expansive shot off the third delivery of the innings off Chameera, the skier pouched equally well by LSG top-scorer Hooda at point.