IPL 2023: Shankar sends selectors a reminder and gives Titans the cutting edge

The forgotten man of Indian cricket is now back with a bang, teasing the Indian selectors to consider him for the pivotal number four slot when India hosts the 50-over World Cup later this year

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

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Vijay Shankar of Gujarat Titans plays a shot against Kolkata Knight Riders. — IPL
Vijay Shankar of Gujarat Titans plays a shot against Kolkata Knight Riders. — IPL

Published: Sat 29 Apr 2023, 10:39 PM

Clinching the top spot with a clinical display against the Kolkata Knight Riders, Gujarat Titans reminded everyone of its might.

With the emphatic seven-wicket win over the Knights, Gujarat proved why it is the team to beat in the IPL this season.


Of course, Gujarat is not the only contender this season.

The Chennai Super Kings, under the irreplaceable MS Dhoni, remains a very strong contender for the title.


The Rajasthan Royals, with its all-round depth, will fancy its chances to add to its only title it famously won in the inaugural season of the league in 2008.

Then there is the Lucknow Super Giants, a team brimming with explosive all-rounders.

But it’s the Gujarat Titans that can give you nightmares if you are sitting in the opposite dugout.

This team is such a well-drilled unit that it has even managed to bring Vijay Shankar (51 not out off 24 balls, 2 fours, 5 sixes) back to life.

The forgotten man of Indian cricket is now back with a bang, hitting sixes at will, teasing the Indian selectors to consider him for the pivotal number four slot in the batting order when India hosts the 50-over World Cup later this year.

Coming in at number four on Saturday when the Titans, chasing 180, needed 87 off 56 balls, Shankar suffered a blow when skipper Hardik Pandya (26 off 20 balls) failed to convert his start.

But with new man David Miller (32 not out off 18 balls), the flamboyant South African left-hander, Shankar put the Knights to the sword.

A wicket at that stage could have brought the home team back in the contest at the Eden Gardens, but Shankar was unstoppable against pace and spin.

His three sixes against his Tamil Nadu teammate Varun Chakravarthy, the mystery spinner, turned the game on its head.

Shankar’s stunning assault on the Knight Riders’ best spinner was the perfect response to Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s earlier attack on Titans’ trump card Rashid Khan.

The fearless Afghan opener (81 off 39 balls, 5 fours, 7 sixes) returned to form in rousing fashion and knocked the stuffing out of Rashid, his Afghanistan national teammate, by scoring 30 off his 11 balls from the leg-spinner.

Rashid had a bad day at the office, but Gujarat Titans overall would be mighty please with the effort against the two-time champions.

Mohammed Shami (4-0-33-3) was relentless with the ball, and the Indian star was well supported by Josh Little (4-0-25-2), the Irish medium pacer.

Noor Ahmad (4-0-21-2), the 18-year-old left-arm spinner and the latest talent to have emerged from Afghanistan, more than made up for Rashid’s uncharacteristic poor show with the ball.

“In a group, we know that to win the game, irrespective of the situation, we have to play good cricket. that humbleness is helping us win games of cricket,” skipper Pandya said after the match on Saturday.

His team certainly has what it takes to become only the third team to defend the IPL title.

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