By Rajarshi Gupta: Gujarat Titans, the defending champions, defeated Mumbai Indians at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad in Qualifier 2 of the 2023 Indian Premier League on Friday to set up a title clash against Chennai Super Kings.
Gujarat Titans are now the first team in the IPL to qualify for the finals in their first two seasons of the tournament.
Mumbai Indians, the most successful side in the history of the Indian Premier League, had finished 10th in the points table last season but after a stunning around this season, made it to the playoffs and defeated Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator. However, MI were totally outplayed by the Titans, who were ruthless with bat and ball.
Shubman Gill led the charge with the bat for Gujarat Titans with a 60-ball 129 and Mohit Sharma picked 5 for 10 as the defending champions stormed to their second successive final in the IPL. This was Gill’s third hundred of the season and he also went past the 800-run mark this year to join an elite club of batters in the tournament. At 23, Shubman Gill now owns several IPL records and showed why he is regarded so highly by some of world cricket’s biggest names.
Shubman Gill’s sensational hundred meant Mumbai Indians were tasked with a chase of 234. Though MI showed flashes of brilliance in the middle-order, their hopes were dashed by spectacular bowling from GT and smart captaincy from Hardik Pandya.
Mohammed Shami rocked the Mumbai Indians chase with two wickets in his first two overs. Shami has been superb in the Powerplay this season and as MI faced a record chase against a high-quality bowling attack, he was in his elements again. In the first over, Shami dismissed Nehal Wadhera who was the Impact player for MI and came out to open alongside Rohit Sharma. Ishan Kishan suffered an eye injury and MI brought in Vishnu Vinod as a concussion substitute.
In his next over, Shami struck again to remove MI skipper Rohit Sharma; only a special effort from the five-time champions would have even started to make the Titans nervous at that stage.
Cameron Green had to walk off the field after copping a blow from Hardik Pandya and then came Tilak Varma. One of MI’s brightest stars in a forgettable season in 2022, Tilak smashed Shami for 4, 4, 4, 4, 2 and 6 to collect 24 runs. Suddenly, MI were hoping. But there was a twist in the tale when Rashid Khan snared the dangerous Tilak in his first over.
It was a frenetic game and at every corner, each of the two sides in Qualifier 2, would have felt their chances slipping away.
Cameron Green returned to resume his innings after Tilak Varma’s dismissal and with Suryakumar Yadav playing some breathtaking shots at the other end, MI were still in the hunt. They reached 111 for 3 at the halfway stage and it was anybody’s game at that point. But Hardik Pandya has been outstanding as captain and on Friday, he showed why he is a tactical genius. Josh Little and Mohit Sharma were held back till the 11th over and that move paid off for the Titans.
Josh Little came on to bowl in the 12th over of the innings and immediately removed Cameron Green while Mohit Sharma who was introduced in the 15th over, struck twice to get rid of Suryakumar Yadav and Vishnu Vinod. Minutes later, Rashid Khan snared Tim David and there was no chance for MI to challenge GT anymore.
In his second over, Mohit Sharma took two more wickets to dismiss Chris Jordan and Piyush Chawla to bring the Titans close to the final. Mohit dismissed Kumar Kartikeya to complete his maiden five-wicket haul in the IPL as GT secured victory by 62 runs.
Shubman Gill. It was all about Shubman Gill for Gujarat Titans as they smashed 233 for 3 after Rohit Sharma won the toss and decided to bowl in the hope the Mumbai Indians’ pacers could make something of conditions following heavy rain in Ahmedabad. But Gill had other ideas.
Wriddhiman Saha’s scrappy innings produced 18 off 16. Sai Sudharsan was retired out by GT with a 31-ball 43 because of sheer lack of fluency. Hardik Pandya played a cameo, a rapid 28 not out, but there was not much to talk about that because of what
Shubman Gill did.
And here is what he did.
Shubman Gill scored 129 off 60 balls. This was his third hundred of the season and he became only the third batter after Virat Kohli and Jos Buttler to score more than two hundreds in a single edition of the IPL.
Gill is now the youngest to score a hundred in the IPL playoffs and he broke Virender Sehwag’s record for the highest score in an IPL playoff and he also now owns the most sixes hit by a batter in an IPL playoff. There’s more. Shubman Gill is the fourth batter to score over 800 runs in an IPL season after Virat Kohli (973), Jos Buttler (863) and David Warner (848). Shubman Gill is also the youngest to enter that elite club at 23.
It was an innings of purity and destruction. Saha and Sudharsan struggled to match any of Gill’s mind-numbing skills.
Shubman Gill hit 7 fours and 10 sixes in an innings that headlined the arrival of India’s next big batting star. Not that he had not done enoigh already to be crowned the Prince of Indian batting, an apparent successor to Virat Kohli, the undisputed King. This innings came in a high-pressure, high-octane game.
Gujarat Titans had shocked the world with their sensational run in 2022, winning the IPL in their debut season. In 2023, it was a stiffer challenge as Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians found form after a horror run last year. Imagine the kind of pressure GT’s players were under with another final in sight.
But Shubman Gill batted like few before him have batted in the IPL. After a watchful start, Gill unleashed some of the most delightful shots you could hope to watch in a T20 game. Suryakumar Yadav is audacious, Chris Gayle was brutal but Shubman Gill is poetry in motion.
Shubman Gill is a rare talent and he is in the middle of a fairytale. Last year, he had scored his first ODI hundred against Zimbabwe and then followed it up with a maiden Test hundred against Bangladesh.
And then came along 2023 and Shubman Gill knew he had to make his mark in a World Cup year. So he did. Shubman Gill started the year with ODI hundreds and one of them happened to be a record-breaking double hundred. Weeks later, Gill would score his maiden T20I hundred and not long after, he scored a special hundred in the final Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Shubman Gill is now assured of the Orange Cap. Only five Indians before Gill have won the coveted award but three weeks ago, he was nowhere in the fray. Faf du Plessis and Yashasvi Jaiswal were leading the race before a sensational run of scores for Gill: 94 not out, 6, 101, 104 not out, 42 and 129. And out went du Plessis from the top spot and in came Gill with no one else close enough.
Gujarat Titans’ 233 for 3 is also the highest total for the team in the IPL. On May 7, they had smashed their previous best of 227 for 2 and guess who the highest scorer was for GT then? Shubman Gill, who else!