Gujarat Titans started their defence of their title with a five-wicket triumph over Chennai Super Kings in Friday’s IPL opener in Ahmedabad, thanks in large part to a brilliant half-century from Shubman Gill, who overshadowed Ruturaj Gaikwad’s high-quality performance.
After electing to bowl first in front of a near capacity crowd at the world’s largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, Titans brought things back in the middle overs to reduce Chennai Super Kings to 178 for seven. Gaikwad was all class with his 92 off 50 balls.
Gill, who has been in the best form of his life for the previous three months, scored 63 runs off only 36 balls, setting up a superb win for the home team. The Titans were able to win in 19.2 overs.
Wriddhiman Saha, beginning with Gill, proved he is still in top form by scoring 25 off only 16 balls, including two sixes and as many fours.
Gill’s back foot punch off CSK’s impact player Tushar Deshpande and subsequent pick shot over midwicket were his greatest shots of the innings.
Sai Sudharsan, the Titans’ impact player who came in for the injured Kane Williamson, scored 22 runs off of 17 balls.
Titans needed 41 runs in the final five overs when Gill was taken out, but CSK pushed them to the limit.
An appearance from Rashid Khan (10 not out off 3) helped calm the Titans’ concerns.
Previously, Gaikwad showed off his effortless hitting by collecting as many as nine sixes thanks to his lofted drives over extra cover and sharp pull shots.
Moeen Ali, with his 23 off only 17 balls, was the only other Titans batsman to put them under strain. Ali’s cameo was highlighted by a flat six he struck off a free ball from Mohammed Shami.
Gaikwad set the tone for his innings by pulling IPL rookie Joshua Little on the opening ball of the game. CSK finally found some forward momentum after a slow start thanks to that over’s 15 runs and the 17 runs conceded by Shami in the over that followed.
The Titans brought in their ace bowler Rashid Khan during the powerplay, and he delivered by getting the dangerous-looking Ali caught behind, just as he usually does.
CSK were reduced to 70/3 after Rashid’s second over, when Ben Stokes, captain of the England Test team, was also caught by wicketkeeper Saha.