What a sight it turned out with two key players in Punjab Kings ranks until last year coming face to face in their first match of the 15th edition of IPL for their new franchises on Monday.
India’s premier fast bowler Mohammed Shami took the outside edge of Lucknow Super Giants captain KL Rahul off the first ball of the match en route to wicketkeeper Mathew Wade’s gloves and give Gujarat Titans a rousing start. Rahul played a defensive shot half-heartedly to Shami, who pitched it just outside the off-stump. Surprisingly, umpire Devendra Sharma deemed it not out but the resultant DRS taken by GT saw a clear edge.
Shami continued to impress as he is known to, bowling a wicket-to-wicket line and forcing the batsmen into making mistakes. He conceded only two runs in his first over, came back to pick up another wicket in his second over, that of left-handed opener Quinton de Kock from around the wicket. De Kock’s attempt to defend did not bear fruit and was beaten with the ball angling in and hitting the leg-stump through the gap.
Shami’s two quick wickets sent shivers down the LSG line-up with his new ball partner Varun Aaron, playing his first IPL match since the 2020 edition, accounted for West Indies’ Evin Lewis, top-edging a hook to be brilliantly caught by a running Shubman Gill.
It was three wickets in his first three overs for Shami, when with another beauty, the ball straightened after pitching and consumed Manish Pandey, who was shaping to cut, only to miss and lose his off-stump. Shami’s brilliant first spell of 3-0-10-3 put LSG on the backfoot.
LSG, however, recovered through their fifth-wicket pair of Deepak Hooda and Ayush Badoni, who raised 87 and took their team to a challenging total. Shami did come for his final over in the innings’ 18th over, when Badoni and Krunal Pandya went for big shots. Though Shami nearly had Badoni as his fourth scalp, except that Lockie Ferguson dropped him at deep backward point, the sixth-wicket pair took him for 15 runs in that over.
Despite this, Shami’s overall figures of 4-0-25-3 fetched him the man of the match award.