Gill sizzles as Titans begin IPL title defence with five-win over CSK

Ahmedabad, 31 Mar: Shubman Gill eclipsed Ruturaj Gaikwad’s high-quality knock with a dazzling half-century as Gujarat Titans began their title defence with a convincing five-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings in the IPL opener here on Friday.
Gaikwad was all class in his 92 off 50 balls before Titans pulled things back in the middle overs to limit Chennai Super Kings to 178 for seven after opting to bowl first in front of a near capacity crowd at the world’s largest cricket stadium here.
In the form of his life over the past three months, Gill played some jaw-dropping strokes in his 63 off 36 balls to set up a fine win for the home team. Titans got home in 19.2 overs.
Gill’s opening partner Wriddhiman Saha showed he has still got it as he smashed a couple of sixes and as many fours in his 16-ball 25 that got the Titans going in the run chase.
Gill’s best shot of the innings was the back foot punch off CSK’s impact player Tushar Deshpande and he followed with a pick up shot over midwicket.
Titans’ impact player Sai Sudharsan, who was used in place of an injured Kane Williamson, contributed with 22 off 17 balls.
When Gill departed, Titans needed 41 off the last five overs but CSK managed to take the game down to the wire.
It needed a cameo from Rashid Khan (10 not out off 3) to settled the nerves in the Titans dressing room.
Earlier, it was a display of effortless hitting from Gaikwad, who relied on his lofted drives over extra cover and crisp pull shots to collect as many as nine sixes.
Apart from Gaikwad, the only other batter who put the Titans under pressure was Moeen Ali who came up with a 17-ball 23. Ali’s flat six off Mohammad Shami on a free-hit ball was the highlight of his cameo.
Gaikwad pulled IPL debutant Joshua Little on his very first ball to set the tone of his innings. That over went for 15 runs and with Shami conceding 17 runs in the following over, CSK got the momentum they were looking for.
Titans’ trump card Rashid Khan was introduced in the powerplay and as he often does, he got the wicket that his team was looking for by getting the dangerous looking Ali caught behind.
Rashid’s second over saw him getting rid of England Test captain Ben Stokes, who too was caught by wicketkeeper Saha, leaving CSK at 70 for three.
However, the fall of wickets did not make Gaikwad change his game as he kept getting the boundaries. He welcomed Alzarri Joseph into the attack by smashing him for three sixes in the eighth over.
Titans did well to stem the flow of runs in the middle overs and got the wicket of Ambati Rayudu.
Shivam Dube struggled to find the big hits and that put pressure on Gaikwad who was caught in the deep in the 17th over and missed out on a deserving hundred.
Skipper M S Dhoni came out to bat at number eight but still managed to make an impact as he pulled Little for a six before flicking him for a four in the final over, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Williamson injured his knee while fielding at the boundary and limped off the field.
The last five overs yiel-ded 45 runs for CSK. (PTI)