IPL 2023: GT-RCB: Turning Point: Gill, Shankar Deny RCB Wicket For 12 Overs
IMAGE: Shubman Gill celebrates with Rahul Tewatia after winning the IPL 2023 match against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday, May 21, 2023. Photographs: BCCI
Playing only their second IPL season, Gujarat Titans seem to have cracked the code. They dominated the league stage in their debut season last year to emerge top of the standings with 10 wins from 14 games before they went on to win the title.
And this year again, Gujarat are the title favourites going into the Play-Offs after they repeated their league performance from last year with 10 victories from 14 games.
Their superb showing in IPL 2023 has been courtesy some excellent peformances from the likes of Shubman Gill, Rashid Khan and Mohammed Shami among others.
Shubman Gill continues to enchance his reputation as the best young batter in world cricket. His second successive IPL century saw Gujarat outclass RCB by six wickets to continue their amazing record in run chases, winning 14 out of 17 matches when batting second.
IMAGE: Shubman Gill celebrates a second successive century. Photograph: BCCI
Mohammed Shami showed why he is the most consistent Indian bowler across formats with 24 wickets in 14 games, the same as his team-mate Rashid Khan — the best spinner in the world in T20 cricket.
Having already qualified for the Play-Offs, Gujarat could have easily switched off and rested a their key players for their last league match against RCB. But the defending champions were aware that a defeat could disrupt their momentum ahead of the Play-Offs and hence went in with a full-strength team against RCB.
After RCB raced to 62 for no loss in the Powerplay, Gujarat fought back with three wickets in the space of 14 balls.
It was the Afghanistan spin duo who pegged back RCB in the middle overs. While left-arm wrist spinner Noor Ahmad accounted for Faf du Plessis (28) and Mahipal Lomror (1), Rashid dismissed the dangerous Glenn Maxwell for 11.
IMAGE: Vijay Shankar’s 53 from 35 balls boosted Gujarat in the middle overs.
In a match where all the Gujarat bowlers went for nine runs and above, Rashid stood out with his control as he picked up 1/24 in four overs.
Shami also made a crucial impact as he got Michael Bracewell, who had smashed his way to 26 from 16 balls, in the 14th over to halt RCB’s momentum.
Yash Dayal got Dinesh Karthik caught behind off a bouncer as the veteran perished for his fourth duck in IPL 2023.
RCB looked in danger of finishing around 180 before Virat Kohli and Anuj Rawat (23 from 15 balls) went on the attack at the end, hitting 42 from the last three overs.
Gujarat went into the break on a high as they kept RCB under 200 on a flat wicket with short boundaries.
Gujarat’s run chase didn’t get off to a bright start as Wriddhiman Saha struggled with his timing before he was dismissed by Mohammed Siraj for 12.
The visitors were struggling on 35/1 in five overs and RCB fans were already dancing in the stands before Gill and Vijay Shankar turned the match on its head with their big partnership.
The duo hit a couple of fours and a six off wAYNE Parnell in the sixth over to get the GT innings kickstarted after the slow start.
Gill made sure young leg-spinner Himanshu Sharma didn’t settle down as he swung the flighted delivery over midwicket after he had edged the previous ball for a four. Sharmawas hit for a four each by Shankar and Gill in his next over.
IMAGE: Rashid Khan celebrates dismissing Glenn Maxwell.
Gill showed great resolve to keep the boundaries coming almost every over as he raced to his fifty from just 29 balls — his fifth half-century of the season. He then hammered off-spinner Bracewell for two sixes in the 13th over.
Shankar, who has played a few impactful knocks this season, again came to the fore with a gusty innings under pressure and proved to be the perfect foil for Gill.
The all-rounder played a superb ramp shot, steering the slower bouncer from Vijaykumar Vyshak over the wicket-keeper for a four and hit the next back over the bowler for another boundary.
With 64 needed from five overs, Shankar timed his assault to perfection against the inexperienced Vyshak. He hammered the fourth ball for a huge 106 metre six over long-on to bring up his fifty in grand style, from 34 balls.
Even though he perished to the same bowler, caught at deep midwicket, he had played a vital role with 53 from 35 balls. Shankar and Gill put together a 123-run stand from 71 balls to not drive Gujarat in the middle overs, but importantly they denied RCB a wicket for nearly 12 overs.
Gill ensured there was no late drama as he slammed Siraj for a couple of sixes in the 18th over to bring the chase under control.
It was fitting that the 23 year old finished off the match in grand style with a straight six off Wayne Parnell in the final over, which also brought up his second successive century from 52 balls.