Gill and Tewatia help the Titans pull off a heist

Rahul Tewatia won it for the Gujarat Titans, hitting two sixes over the last two deliveries. Odean Smith lost it for the Punjab Kings, not only conceding those two sixes, but knocking down and single on the fourth ball in the final.

With 13 runs to score for the three-ball win, David Miller returned a shot to the bowler. A point ball would have made the equation unassailable for Gujarat. But Smith threw at the end of the bowling, missed the stumps and conceded a single. Tewatia became Gujarat’s hero by hitting back-to-back sixes under intense pressure, but it was a stupid cricket from Punjab’s fast bowler. Chasing 190 for the win, Gujarat won by six wickets. Tewatia more than made up for his 24 points.

At 133/2 in the 15th, with eight wickets in hand and Hardik Pandya in the crease, Gujarat had it under control. Shubman Gill was moving like a Ferrari on the other end. But Arshdeep Singh and Kagiso Rabada brilliantly pulled things off in the dead before Smith’s error threw them away. Gujarat’s victory, however, rewarded Gill’s 59-ball 96. He didn’t deserve to end up on the losing side.

Gil’s art

Liam Livingstone’s extra training was the hit of the game. There was no violence. Gill stroked the ball to the half-century limit of 29 balls. His staff shuns violence and embraces art. In song, it’s a pleasure to watch. Smith dropped it on 45, a regulation caught and threw a chance, but the bowler couldn’t hold in his follow up. Spectators paid no heed to the fall, as Gill’s stick sounded like music with the lightness of touch.

Vaibhav Arora played short, Gill played it through covers for a four. The bowler bowled hard and the batsman sent him to the back boundary of the square leg. Arshdeep stood up, Gill responded with a push, so gently timed that she beat the defender halfway and went for the fence. He read the spinners beautifully, ran like a hare between the wickets but missed his first hundred IPLs. Overall, Gill’s good form is great news for Indian cricket.

Livingstone’s Firepower

In October, Livingstone is expected to be one of the first names on England’s squad sheet at the T20 World Cup. The 28-year-old has the panache and reach of Kevin Pietersen. Pietersen learned his cricket in Durban. Livingstone is made in Lancashire.

At present, Punjab is reaping the rewards of listing for Rs 11.5 crore, after an intense bidding war at auction. Livingstone shows that the bidding war for him was justified. The team he plays for, he becomes the x factor.

On the 14th, Livingstone walked off the pitch convinced that Pandya had taken his hold on Rashid Khan legitimately at the deep edge of the mid-wicket. Replays showed the defender’s right foot kissing the boundary rope. Livingstone and Rashid began to smile. Pandya looked at the sky.

The difference between Livingstone and his batting partners was stark during a Darshan Nalkande. The young tailor brushed off heavy hitters Jitesh Sharma and Smith on back-to-back deliveries. The two tried to break through the fence, but were pierced in the long run. Livingstone made short work of the average beginner pacer. Before that, he had played with him in his previous class.

Pandya missed a round by not bringing back Mohammed Shami or Lockie Ferguson for an over in the middle, as Livingstone upped the ante. The Gujarat captain retained his top two bowlers for the end of the innings. By this time, however, Livingstone was threatening to take the game away from the opposition.

Rashid finally got him out by pulling his length back and forcing an untimely pull. Still, Punjab should have topped 200, on Livingstone’s 64-ball 27-ball that included seven fours and four sixes. But hitting around him was not up to par. Shahrukh Khan fell prey to Rashid, Rabada’s run-out was comical and saved a final 27-point wicket partnership between Chahar and Singh, Punjab would have struggled to post a big tally.

Sudharsan impresses

Sai Sudharsan made his IPL debut, replacing the injured Vijay Shankar and carrying his reputation to the Tamil Nadu Premier League. He was the TNPL’s MVP last year, scoring 358 points and this game has seen a steady progression.

Coming from a sporting family – his father is a former Indian athlete, while his mother is a former national level volleyball player – Sudharsan didn’t look out of place at all. His job was to play second fiddle to Gill, which he did well, scoring 35 out of 30 and adding 101 runs for the second wicket. The partnership played an important role in Gujarat’s victory.

Short scores: Punjab Kings 189 for 9 overs from 20 (Liam Livingstone 64, Shikhar Dhawan 35; Rashid Khan 3/22) lost to Gujarat Titans 190 for 4 overs from 20 (Shubman Gill 96, Sai Sudarsan 35; Kagiso Rabada 2/35).

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