IPL 2023: Getting Mohit Sharma in the playing eleven an inspired move from Gujarat

Mohit played a big role in Gujarat Titans' win over Punjab Kings with two wickets in the middle overs


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Mohit Sharma of Gujarat Titans bowls during the match against Punjab Kings. — IPL
Mohit Sharma of Gujarat Titans bowls during the match against Punjab Kings. — IPL

Published: Thu 13 Apr 2023, 11:03 PM

Defending champion Gujarat Titans bounced back from the shock defeat to the Rinku Singh-inspired Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday night.

Showing its depth in bowling and batting, the Titans was too strong for Punjab Kings as Hardik Pandya’s men cruised to a comprehensive seven-wicket win in Mohali.

Having suffocated the Kings batsmen with a tight line and length, restricting them to a modest 153 for eight, the Titans reached home in the final over of the match.

Mohit Sharma (4-0-18-2), playing his first IPL match in three years, and Rashid Khan (4-0-26-1) were the heroes with the ball.

Shubman Gill (67 off 49 balls, 7 fours, 1 six) then anchored the chase to earn the Titans’ third win in four matches.

Here are the five deciding factors in the match.

Red-hot attack

The par T20 score in Mohali is 168. But on Thursday night, the Gujarat Titans bowlers delivered such a high-class performance that the home team’s batting unite never looked capable of putting a good total on the board.

The pace attack, led by Mohammed Shami who made the early breakthrough by removing Prabhsimran Singh in the second ball of the match, was outstanding at the start, rarely allowing batters to free their arms.

The early wicket put the pressure on Punjab and even its captain Shikhar Dhawan (8 off 8 balls), the tournament’s top scorer, cut a frustrating figure after five dot balls.

Those five dot balls were sandwiched between two gorgeous strokes to the off-side boundary, his only two scoring shots of the day.

Dhawan eventually stepped out for a shot over mid-wicket only to mistime it and fall in the safe hands of Alzarri Joseph.

Losing two wickets, including the prolific Dhawan, for 28 in the fourth over was disastrous for Punjab.

Lack of intensity

Matthew Short (36 off 24 balls), an uncapped Australian batsman, gave the Kings a chance to rebuild the innings.

Short was harsh on anything short as the 27-year-old batsman looked set for a big score.

But he fell to a beautifully disguised wrong’un from Rashid Khan.

If Short’s failure to convert his start was a blow, Bhanuka Rajapaksa (20 off 26 balls, 1 four), one of the heroes of Sri Lanka’s Asia Cup triumph, made the matters worse for the home team.

A sweet timer of the ball who relies on boundaries, Rajapaksa struggled to find the ropes.

The left-hander also didn’t seem to have Plan B.

There was no effort to rotate the strike to keep the scoreboard ticking and his miserable stay at the wicket was finally over when he desperately went for six off Joseph only to be caught in the deep.

Dot balls

The sedate Punjab Kings innings was dotted with 55 dot balls, showing a clear lack of ideas from the home team. The likes of Jitesh Sharma (25 off 23 balls) and Sam Curran (22 off 22 balls) tried to their best shift gears, but the disciplined Gujarat attack always had things under control.

If not for Shahrukh Khan’s 9-ball 22, Punjab would have fallen short of the 150-mark for the second straight time in the tournament.

Return of Pandya

Gujarat Titans clearly missed the calming influence of skipper Hardik Pandya in the previous game against the Kolkata Knight Riders when Rinku Singh hit five sixes in the last five balls to script the most dramatic victory in the history of IPL.

Pandya returned to lead the Titans on Thursday and marshalled his bowlers brilliantly.

Getting Mohit into the playing eleven was an inspired move as the 34-year-old medium-pacer took two crucial wickets.

The former Chennai Super Kings bowler justified his selection with an outstanding spell in the middle overs.

Gill on the ball

Chasing a modest target, Gujarat was never threatened by Punjab, even though Punjab did manage to strike a few blows at the other end.

Playing on his home ground, the elegant Punjab played second fiddle to opening partner Wriddhiman Saha (30 off 19 balls) when the chase began.

Punjab had Kagiso Rabada, Arshdeep Singh and Curran in its attack as well as Rahul Chahar, the talented leg-spinner, who came on as the impact player.

But 153 was too modest a total to defend against a Gujarat batting unit that was beautifully anchored by Gill.

The 23-year-old’s dismissal in the final over did give some jitters to Titans fans, but David Miller (17 not out off 18 balls) and Rahul Tewatia (5 off 2 balls) dragged the team over the line.


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