Gill and Ferguson make it two in two for Gujarat Titans 

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Gujarat Titans 171 for 6 (Gill 84, Pandya 31, Mustafizur 3-23, Khaleel 2-34) beat Delhi Capitals 157 for 9 (Pant 43, Ferguson 4-28, Shami 2-30) by 14 runs

(CRICINFO) Shubman Gill‘s great lone hand with the bat nearly went in vain but Lockie Ferguson put in a great bowling performance of his own to drag Gujarat Titans to only the third successful defence in this IPL, and the second under lights.

Gill scored a personal-best 84 off 46 in a breathtaking yet silken innings; the others, including extras, managed just 87 off 74 balls. Titans’ 171 for 6 was a strictly middling total, which Capitals looked like cruising past on two occasions, but an accurate and quick Ferguson twice produced double-wicket overs to dismantle the chase with figures of 4-0-28-4. Gill was particularly severe on spin, scoring 45 off 21 balls from Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav, who conceded just 24 in the other 27 balls they bowled, giving them reason to believe they actually controlled the middle overs. The Capitals batters would have thought they were in control too, but once it gets up to 145kph and above – even some of Ferguson’s offcutters were that quick – and higher than the chest, funny things happen. Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw, Axar Patel and Mandeep Singh all fell to his short-pitched bowling.

 Gill plays a different game
It was like watching two different matches when Gill batted. Matthew Wade fell trying to ramp Mustafizur Rahman in the first over. Vijay Shankar struggled through his 20-ball 13. It took Hardik Pandya, batting at No. 4, 18 balls to go past a run a ball; he ended up with 31 off 27. And yet the score at the fall of Pandya’s wicket was 109 for 3 in 14 overs. That’s because Gill was batting like a dream at the other end even if deprived of support and strike. Gill has been guilty in the past of scoring at a middling strike rate, especially for an opener who gets the use of field restrictions. This, though, was arguably his best T20 innings, and definitely his best score in the format. The intent was spot-on, and the method was more timing than strength. ESPNcricinfo’s metrics valued this knock of 84 at 109.54 smart runs. By the time he was done hitting four sixes and six fours, Gill had taken Titans 145 for 4 in the 18th over. The finish was neither great nor terrible with David Miller and Rahul Tewatia somehow taking Titans to 171 despite Mustafizur conceding just four runs and taking two wickets in the final over.

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 Pandya the opening bowler
Not long ago Pandya’s India future was in doubt given his lack of bowling fitness. The argument was that India couldn’t afford a specialist death-overs hitter. Two matches into the IPL, and Pandya has walked in to bat in the third and seventh over, and has twice bowled his allotment of four overs. In this one, he even opened the bowling. And he struck first ball, dug into the surface and sitting up on Tim Seifert. Capitals 8 for 1 in 1.1 overs.

 Ferguson’s first intervention
Still, Mandeep Singh and Prithvi Shaw got Capitals off to a healthy enough start, taking them to 32 for 1 in four overs, taking a toll on Mohammed Shami. Enter Ferguson. The first ball was right at Shaw’s throat. He committed to hooking, but the ball got to him quickly, rushing him into the shot, taking a top edge to long leg. Mandeep’s defeat was even more comprehensive. He was caught hopping away from the line, looking to use the pace, but the extra bounce took his top edge to Wade.

 Pant matches fire with fire
There was a distinct change in the time available to play Ferguson when Pant walked out. He started off by pulling him through midwicket and then lashed at one outside off, getting four through the edge. For some reason, Pandya didn’t trust Varun Aaron, who conceded just seven in his first over, and Capitals went after the change bowlers. Shankar’s 12th was taken for 14 despite Lalit Yadav being run out. Tewatia’s 14th went for 13. Now just 54 were required off the last six.

 Ferguson gets involved again
Pandya didn’t have much of a choice but to go back to Ferguson in the 15th over. He went round the wicket, bowled a quick offcutter-bouncer at 145kph first ball, and he bowled it wide enough that Pant had to drag it to access the leg side. There wasn’t enough time to do so, and the top edge settled with long leg. That wicket took Capitals’ win probability down from 64% to 62%, which suggested the wicket might have come too late.

What if Ferguson took one more, though? He did so with another fast, short offcutter, this time with a tickle down the leg side. Now there was a dip in the win probability to 54%.

Rashid, Shami finish it off
There still was Rovman Powell at the wicket, and with just 46 required from 30 you couldn’t count out a big hitter. Powell set out to play out the one over each left for Rashid Khan and Ferguson. Rashid, though, proved to be too good for Shardul Thakur, trapping him in front with the last ball he bowled.

Powell still kept Capitals alive by seeing off Ferguson with a steered boundary, bringing the equation down to 30 in the last three overs. Now Pandya would have decisions to make. Ferguson and Rashid were bowled out. Shami wasn’t having a great night. Two other overs needed to be squeezed in, one of which Pandya could bowl himself.

If Powell managed to take down Shami, though, there would be pressure on the last two. The small leg-side boundary was tempting, but Shami was accurate and quick with his offcutter to get Powell lbw, and end the contest for all practical purposes ended in the 18th over.



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