Skipper Hardik Pandya improved his reputation as the number four batter with an unbeaten 87 from 52 balls when Gujarat Titans defeated Rajasthan Royals by 37 runs in the Indian Premier League here on Thursday. Hardik, whose attack speed and approach have been questioned in his new position, played responsible when needed, before showing the strength he is known for leading Titans to 192 for four after being sent off in bat. Forming Jos Buttler (54 out of 24) got the Royals off to another flying start, but the rest of the batting unit was unsuccessful as the innings ended at 155 for nine in 20 overs.
Young left-armer Yash Dayal (3/40) impressed on IPL debut, while Lockie Ferguson (3/23) took the important wicket from Buttler, who was tricked by the New Zealander’s slow yorker after a series of quick deliveries.
Ferguson also fired Ravichandran Ashwin in the same over after the senior India spinner was promoted to batter at number three.
The other notable contribution to the Royals innings came from Shimron Hetmyer (29 of 17). The Royals dropped from 56 to one to 90 to five and was unable to recover from that point on.
Hardik, who has been bowling regularly this season, also took a wicket but took himself off the attack in the 18th after feeling a minor groin discomfort.
Titans pushed the Royals off the top of the points table with their fourth win in five games. It was the Royals’ second loss in five games.
Previously, Hardik found a capable ally in Abhinav Manohar (43 out of 28) before exploding in the company of David Miller (31 not out of 14) to propel the IPL debutants to their highest score of the tournament.
Hardik and Manohar tied for 86 for the skipper’s fourth wicket and Miller shot 53 from 25 balls to end the innings in style.
After batting, Gujarat scored 53 for three.
While Hardik’s 52-ball hit was riddled with eight fours and four sixes, Manohar hit four fours and two maxima.
Miller, who hit five limits and a six overall, pulled out 21 runs in the penultimate over Kuldeep Sen (1/51).
For starters, Hardik was aggressive on pacer Kuldeep as he hammered him over three straight limits in the fifth.
He then hit his first maximum in the seventh when he hit Riyan Parag over the head.
The duo raised the stakes when Manohar charged Yuzvendra Chahal and hammered him for a four and up, a lofted inside-out drive over cover. The two then took on Kuldeep, overtaking him for three limits in the 14th, where Hardik also picked up his fifty, with a cut toward a rear point fence.
And in the next over, Hardik hit two consecutive maximums from seasoned spinner Ashwin, who leaked 16 runs into the over.
With Titans hitting 130 for three in 15 overs, the stage was set for a big total.
After Manohar left, Miller expertly supported the skipper.
Titans lost opener Matthew Wade (12) cheaply, thanks to a direct hit by Rassie Van Der Dussen from cover.
Titans dropped to 15/2, while Vijay Shakar (2) also died cheaply, when a rusty looking Shubman Gill (13) became Parag’s first victim after being caught by Shimron Hetymyer at the elongated fence.
The Royals missed the services of lead pacer Trent Boult, who was ejected from the game due to a glitch.
Topics mentioned in this article