Lucknow, Apr 22 (PTI) Skipper KL Rahul managed to snatch defeat from jaws of victory with a baffling batting approach as defending champions Gujarat Titans beat Lucknow Super Giants by seven runs in a low-scoring IPL thriller, here on Saturday.
Chasing target of 136 on a sluggish pitch, LSG were cruising along at 105 for 1 after 14 overs with 31 needed off 36 deliveries but ended at 128 for 7 at the end of 20 overs.
Veteran Mohit Sharma (2/17 in 3 overs) required to defend only 12 off the final over and he removed rival captain Rahul (68 off 61 balls) and kept hitting the blockhole length to conceded only five runs in the end with another three wickets lost in the process.
But the entire blame falls on the captain, who got 50 off 33 balls and then consumed another 28 deliveries for his 18. There were two 50 plus stands with Kyle Mayers (24 off 19 balls) and Krunal Pandya (23 off 23 balls) but in the end even the biggest Titans fans would agree that 136 was difficult to defend.
Left-arm wrist spinner Noor Ahmad bowled two brilliant overs to return with figures of 4-0-18-2, while Mohammed Shami’s international experience saw him concede just 5 in the penultimate over, leaving Mohit with a tricky assignment which he completed with elan.
LSG lost the game in the last five overs with Noor triggering the turnaround keeping Rahul in check.
With the win, GT reached the fourth spot with 8 points in the IPL standing, while LSG remained at the second spot with same points but with better net run-rate. Defending the total, Shami bowled a maiden opening over but he erred in his second over and was dispatched by KL Rahul for three successive fours to amass 14 runs.
Mayers too got into the act, smashing Rashid Khan for 16 runs with the help of back-to-back fours and a maximum. LSG raced to 53 for 0 in the first six overs.
Rashid, however, had his man when he knocked over his stumps with a quicker delivery in the 7th over to break the partnership.
Krunal Pandya, who survived an LBW call and was then dropped by Abhinav Manohar off Rashid, build a fine partnership with the duo finding the boundary once every over to keep their chase on track.
However, wrist-spinner Noor Ahmad struck twice, removing Krunal Pandya (23) and Nicholas Pooran (1) and after a string of dot balls, things became tight for LSG.
Needing 23 off 18, Badoni joined Rahul but Mohit Sharma and Shami conceded just 5 runs each in the next two overs, leaving LSG 13 to get in the last six balls which they failed to get.
Earlier, with the pitch being a tad slow, spinner Krunal Pandya emerged Lucknow’s best bowler as he snapped two wickets, giving away just 16 runs after coming to bowl in the second over.
With pacer Naveen-ul-Haq (1/19) and Marcus Stoinis (2/20) also doing their job, Lucknow restricted Gujarat to 135 for six.
Infact, it could have been far worse but Ravi Bishnoi had a forgettable outing, bleding 49 in his quota of four overs. It was the 19 runs conceded by the spinner in the 18th over that lifted GT in the end.
When GT batted, Wriddhiman Saha made 47 off 37 balls to lay the foundation but Hardik couldn’t get going although he somewhat made up for the slow batting with some big hits in the end.
Krunal drew first blood, dismissing Shubhman Gill for a duck in just his second delivery with the opener holing out to Ravi Bishnoi at long-off.
Saha managed to pick up boundaries against each of the bowlers, especially Bishnoi, who was punished twice on the off-side as GT scored 40 for 1 in the Powerplay overs.
Hardik finally broke free, sending Bishnoi across extra cover to bring up the 50-run partnership and then depositing him over long-off to rack up 14 runs in the 9th over.
After 12 for 1 in his first three overs, Krunal returned to deceive a well-set Saha with his flight and the opener was caught by Deepak Hooda.
Soon it was 77 for 3 as Amit Mishra set up Abhinav Manohar (3) with a loopy ball outside off and Naveen-ul-Haq took a stunning catch at deep cover with a full stretch dive.
Pandya and newman Vijay Shankar couldn’t push the score and Naveen-ul-Haq returned to clean up the latter as GT reached 92 for 4 in 15 overs and last five overs yielded 43 runs.
Source: PTI News