Middle order experts Vijay Shankar and David Miller’s fireworks earned Gujarat Titans a deserving seven-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday.
After restricting KKR, asked to bat, to 179 for seven, GT achieved the target with 13 balls left and recorded its sixth victory.
Showcasing his impressive drives, cuts and flicks, ‘impact player’ Gill added 41 runs with Wriddhiman Saha for the opening stand.
Gill (49, 35b, 8x4) then added 50 with skipper Hardik Pandya.
GT lost some momentum after losing two wickets in consecutive overs. Pacer Harshit Rana claimed Hardik, and Sunil Narine got his first wicket, with Gill trying to hoist one, after five matches.
KKR’s spin stifled the GT batters a bit before the dangerous duo of Miller, who was dropped off Russell on 26, and Vijay stepped up their attack. Miller entertained with his straight sixes, while Vijay exhibited his massive pulls to build an unbroken 39-ball 87-run partnership and ensure GT’s grudge victory with an unbeaten half-century.
Following a 45-minute delayed start due to rain, Gurbaz (81, 39b, 5x4, 7x6), returning after three matches, shouldered a major responsibility. He picked the deliveries early, took the aerial route nicely and executed his hits beautifully on both sides to help KKR gather 61 for two in the Powerplay.
Gurbaz, who was severe on his fellow country-man Rashid Khan, got his second half-century.
Left-arm pacer Josh Little bowled intelligently to apply the brakes, trapping Venkatesh Iyer in front and having home skipper Nitish Rana caught at point in the 11th over.
Left-arm wrist spinner Noor Ahmad kept it tight to capture two vital wickets. Gurbaz, who formed a 47-run partnership with Rinku Singh, pulled a low full toss to Rashid in a rare all-Afghan action, and Rinku, trying to break free, was held at long-off.
Birthday boy Russell (34, 19b, 2x4, 3x6) displayed his trademark hammering before being dismissed by Shami, who hit the right areas and scalped N.Jagadeesan and Shardul Thakur early.
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