Gujarat Titans 170 for 7 (Miller 94*, Rashid 40, Bravo 3-23) beat Chennai Super Kings 169 for 5 (Gaikwad 73, Joseph 2-34) by three wickets
David Miller played possibly his best IPL innings, 94 off 51, to help Gujarat Titans chase down Chennai Super Kings’ 170 from 16 for 3 and 87 for 5. For the first 17 overs, it was Miller or bust with just 43 non-Miller runs in 59 legal deliveries. They needed 48 now, and were 4.2% favourites to win. That’s when Rashid Khan, captaining in the absence of Hardik Pandya, lent Miller a hand in sensational fashion, hitting Chris Jordan for 6, 6, 4 and 6 to turn it into a routine affair for Titans.
Dwayne Bravo, though, was to CSK’s second half what Miller was to Titans’ first half: he bowled four overs on the trot starting with the 13th for 23 runs and three wickets, but the other end leaked 60 off 23 balls without taking a single wicket. Bravo finished his spell with two strikes in two balls. One of them was Rashid, which left Titans needing 13 off the last over. Miller only had the bowlers for company now but it didn’t matter because Jordan kept missing his yorker, and even bowled a high full toss to let Titans get home with one ball to spare.
CSK will be gutted that they slipped up in the final overs of both innings. After Ruturaj Gaikwad returned to form with a fifty and Ambati Rayudu‘s intent promised another big finishing kick, their last six overs produced just 45, the third-lowest for a side batting first this season. That after the preceding four had gone for 58. It was Alzarri Joseph, who dragged CSK back with the wicket of Rayudu after which their deep attack turned the screws.
Gaikwad and Rayudu set up for a big finish
Titans managed to get the most explosive powerplay batter of this season, Robin Uthappa, early in the innings after his highest IPL score, and Moeen Ali’s middling IPL continued to leave the score at 32 for 2 in the sixth over. However, Gaikwad, just 35 in five matches before this, and Rayudu rebuilt the innings looking for a classic CSK acceleration in the back 10.
Gaikwad and Rayudu take down the best of them
Aware of the CSK threat in the last 10 overs, Titans brought back the best of their bowlers immediately to try to take a wicket. An all-out assault awaited them. Gaikwad welcomed Joseph back with a pulled six before Rayudu charged down at him and lofted him over long-off. Lockie Ferguson went for a six and a four. Rayudu hit Rashid himself for a six. At 124 for 2 in 14, CSK looked primed.
Joseph starts comeback, others follow
Playing his first match this IPL, Joseph made a superb comeback in the 15th over. He kept bowling wide outside off to make Rayudu hit to the bigger boundary. Two plays and misses later, Rayudu somehow caught up with the third, but went only as far as deep point. Mohammed Shami came back with only four off the 16th, ending with figures of 4-0-20-1. Yash Dayal took Gaikwad out with a low full toss for 73 off 48. Twenty-five balls went without a boundary as Shivam Dube struggled with the slowness of the pitch.
Rashid, who had perhaps kept himself back for MS Dhoni, conceded no boundary in the 19th. It was only Ravindra Jadeja using the short leg side boundary against Ferguson in the last over, taking 18 off it, that gave CSK a competitive total.
Theekshana strikes early
With Pandya, their best batter so far, not playing Titans must have looked to Shubman Gill for a major contribution, but he unfortunately cut the first ball he faced – short, wide, asking to be hit – straight to cover-point. Maheesh Theekshana, fresh off a four-four in the last match, turned the screw with the wickets of Vijay Shankar and Abhinav Manohar in the powerplay. Wriddhiman Saha scored a forgettable 11 off 18 to make it 48 for 4 after eight overs.
Miller, though, looked like he was playing on a different pitch to the one where almost everyone had struggled for timing in the last 12 overs. With Moeen Ali getting grip and turn away from the bat, Miller still managed to hit a straight four and a six in the ninth and 11th overs. In the 12th he opened up properly, taking down Jadeja, who turned the ball into him, hitting him for two sixes and a four. Out of 87 for 4 in 12 overs, Miller had scored 52 off just 29 balls.
At a time when Miller might have looked for some support from the other end, Bravo started his evening with a wicket-maiden. The slower ball dipped and gripped for him, and accounted for Rahul Tewatia.
Miller, though, kept going to make up for a slow start from Rashid. These next three overs were crucial as runs could have come only from Miller’s end because Rashid knew there wasn’t much batting behind him. Runs did come, and in style. Even Bravo and Theekshana went for sixes, making it 52 off the last four overs. However, Bravo again struck back with a boundary-less 17th to leave Titans a one-in-25 chance of winning.
With a short leg-side boundary in play, Rashid unfurled those wrists against Jordan, the most profligate death-overs bowler in IPL chases, in the 18th over. The helicopter sent the first half-volley flying over midwicket. Jordan went wide second ball, but Rashid played a sensational slice over point for a six over the longer boundary. Jordan missed the yorker twice again and went for four and six. By the end of the over, Titans were 56% favourites to win.
Bravo brought CSK back with another slower one to get rid of Rashid. At 13 off seven, Joseph had a free hit to try to get a boundary but he found long-off. He still left Miller on strike for the start of the last over.
Jordan again kept missing his yorker, and when he bowled the high full toss with seven required off three, it was practically game over. The 38 he conceded off 11 legal balls was only behind Thisara Perera’s 41 in nine balls for runs conceded at the death in an IPL chase.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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