Brief scores: Gujarat Titans 177/7 (20 overs) lose to Rajasthan Royals 179/7 (19.2 overs) by three wickets.

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A splendid show with the bat from captain Sanju Samson (60) and a batting blitz at the death from hit-man Shimron Hetmyer (56*) helped Rajasthan Royals record a three-wicket win over Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League on Sunday.

It was a day of sweet revenge at the Narendra Modi Stadium as the Royals paid back in style for their loss in the IPL 2022 final with the batters rising to the occasion to help the team past the finish line. Asking the Titans to bat first, the Royals’ bowlers started slow, but eventually found their rhythm to restrict Gujarat to 177/ 7 in 20 overs.

In reply, it was Samson who led the fight with a fine 60 while Hetmyer applied the finishing touches in his typical style as Rajasthan cemented their place on top of the IPL 2023 points table with another win to their name.

Boult and Powerplay, a match made in heaven

Death, taxes, and Trent Boult in Powerplay - the three certainties in life! And it was no different at Motera as the Kiwi ace celebrated his return to the playing XI with a wicket in the first over of the match. On what was a length delivery, Wriddhiman Saha was early to close the face of his bat on it, giving a leading edge. And what should have been a regulation catch for Samson, the Royals ended up making a melee out of it. But thankfully, Boult was quick to react to grab onto the ricochet.

That was the only success that the Kiwi had on the night. But his new-ball partner Sandeep Sharma continued from where he left in the last match and delivered an inspiring performance that saw him grab two wickets for 25 runs – the best figures by a Rajasthan bowler in the match - to restrict the reigning champions to 177. 

Spinners come to the fore

On a seam-friendly track, the Rajasthan spinners struggled initially. But as the match progressed, the Royal trio of Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, and Adam Zampa showed their class to test the Gujarat line-up. While Chahal and Zampa returned with a wicket each, Ashwin had a rather off day, giving away 37 runs in his four overs. While Chahal got the better of the Titans’ skipper Hardik Pandya – his 11th wicket of the season – Zampa dismissed Abhinav Manohar just when he threatened to take the game away. 

What helped the Men in Pink’s cause was their exceptional effort in the field. The Rajasthan players looked determined and put on a top-quality show to effect a few runouts. Jos Buttler was busy throwing himself around to save every run while the likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal, and Hetmyer held on to their catches.

The Sanju-Shimron show

Though 178 on the Motera track looked achievable given Rajasthan’s depth in batting, losing their explosive openers Jaiswal and Buttler inside the Powerplay made things difficult for the Royals. But they weren’t the ones to back down from a fight as the skipper and Devdutt Padikkal kept the Royals in the game with some smart batting. 

The two ensured that they kept the scoreboard ticking with their running between the wickets while making the most of the loose balls to punish the Gujarat bowlers. With six maximums and three boundaries, Samson was the star of the chase as he anchored the Royals' innings in a splendid manner. Padikkal, however, didn’t last long. But with Hetmyer walking in, the two meant business as they dealt in big shots to bring the required rate down.

While Samson departed midway through the chase, the Royals’ Caribbean showman took it upon himself to see the match through. His fellow Caribbean man, Alzarri Joseph, suffered the most from Hetmyer’s brute force while the likes of Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad weren’t spared either. “I practise these situations, it helps when you practise with that mindset of knowing we are a few wickets down and chasing 100 with 8 overs to go,” the Player of the Match on the night told the broadcasters, leading the Royals to their first-ever win over the Titans.

Milestone alert

  • Sanju Samson has scored 3000 runs for the Royals in IPL.
  • Shimron Hetmeyer achieved 1000 runs in IPL.
  • Sanju Samson has hit 400 boundaries for Rajasthan Royals. The most by any player for the franchise.
  • This was Devdutt Padikkal's 50th IPL match.