Pulling wins out of nowhere has been a hallmark of this Gujarat Titans unit, and on Saturday in Lucknow, the Hardik Pandya-led side arguably completed their biggest heist ever.
Having underwhelmed after opting to bat first, posting just 135, the game looked done and dusted for Gujarat with Lucknow, at one point, needing 31 off 36 balls with nine wickets in hand, but a scarcely believable finish saw the Titans end up on the winning side, clinching the contest by seven runs.
Not for the first time, GT ended up winning a match they had no business winning, and in the aftermath of the mind-numbing contest, Pandya stated that a close win like this will do a world of good to the team’s confidence.
“Credit to the boys. We are a champion side, we won last year. You have to be satisfied with your results. The spirit and the atmosphere changed after getting wickets, that's a very great feeling. A win like this can boost your confidence,” Pandya said at the presentation.
Batting first, Gujarat’s innings never took off, and 135 was all they could manage. Pandya top-scored with 66 but he himself was not at his fluent best, taking 50 balls for the same.
The skipper said that he felt at the halfway point that Gujarat were about 10 runs short.
“I think the way the wicket was playing, we could have got 10 runs more. There was uncertainty. They bowled well and made our life difficult. Batters couldn't get rhythm because of the wicket. During the strategic timeout we spoke about the set batter going for it towards the end.”
In the second innings, the back-to-back tight overs bowled by Jayant Yadav and Noor Ahmad, Pandya felt, brought his side right into the contest and gave them the belief that they could do the impossible.
“We were always chasing them, and never in it. When they needed 30 runs in 30 balls, I thought they were ahead. But when they required 27 in 4 overs, I thought they were under pressure. That's where I thought we could be in the game. The way every bowler contributed, as a captain I couldn't have asked for.”
Mohit Sharma, who won the Player of the Match award on his GT debut, was tasked with bowling two of the last three overs and the veteran passed the test with flying colours, conceding just 10. LSG needed 12 off the last over with a set Rahul on strike, but it was Mohit who came out on top: he dismissed Rahul on the second ball before going W W W 0 to bowl the Titans to a famous victory.
“The amount of cricket he (Mohit Sharma) has played, I don't have to interfere. He made my life easy, he backed his plans and executed it. Shami and Mohit were tremendous, special mention to Jayant who was playing after a long time. Noor has some talent as well.”
Gujarat moved back into the Top 4 with the win. As things stand, they have 8 points from six matches and are well in line to make it to the playoffs.