Defending champions Gujarat Titans started their IPL 2023 campaign from where they left in IPL 2022 at the very same venue as they defeated Chennai Super Kings by five wickets in the tournament opener on Friday.
Gujarat kept Chennai to 178-7 despite Ruturaj Gaikwad’s 92 and then Shubman Gill made 63 to help chase down the target with four balls to spare. Rashid Khan was player of the match for his 2/26 and crucial boundaries with the bat off the first two balls he faced.
Shubman Gill and Wriddhiman Saha provided an explosive start to the home team before debutant Rajvardhan Hangargekar dismissed the latter for 25. However, Gill laid the perfect foundation for the chase with his 36-ball 63 as he combined with impact player Sai Sudharshan (22) and then, Vijay Shankar (27). Hangargekar impressed with a 3/36 but it proved to be a relatively comfortable chase for the Titans.
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Just as the match seemed to be heading for a tense finish, Rashid Khan dispatched Deepak Chahar for a six and a four in the penultimate over. Then, it was down to Rahul Tewatia, now experienced in closing down chases, to do the rest. With CSK’s impact player Tushar Deshpande bowling the final over, Tewatia hit a six and four to seal the deal for Gujarat.
Asked to bat first, Chennai Super Kings posted a competitive total but MS Dhoni reckoned later that they were 15 runs short. Although they lost Devon Conway (1) early, as Mohammed Shami (2/29) picked up his 100th IPL wicket, Ruturaj Gaikwad (92) looked in supreme touch as he dominated the powerplay alongside Moeen Ali (23) before Rashid Khan (2/26) struck in his first over.
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The Afghan all-rounder got rid of both English all-rounders Moeen and Ben Stokes (7), ensuring the CSK middle-order did not hit top gear. However, even as he kept losing support on the other end, Gaikwad continued to deal in boundaries, bringing up his fifty in 23 balls.
With Shivam Dube (19) struggling to get going and Joshua Little making a mess of Ambati Rayudu’s (12) stumps, Gaikwad needed support from seniors Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni. With pressure piling on the other end, Gaikwad was dismissed by Alzarri Joseph (2/33) before he could reach his century. Joseph struck again in the same over to send back Jadeja for 1. Dhoni, with a six and a four in the final over against Little, showed promise in his unbeaten 7-ball-14 before CSK wrapped up the first innings.
The total wasn’t sufficient in the end as CSK suffered their third straight defeat against GT.