IPL 2023, Rajasthan Royals (RR) vs Gujarat Titans (GT): Rashid Khan's 3-14, Noor Ahmad's 2-25 and Hardik Pandya's 1-22 & 39 are top performances. Gujarat Titans beat Rajasthan Royals and move to top of the points table.
Brief Scores: GT 119/1 (Saha 41*, Hardik 39*, Chahal 1/22) beat RR 118 (Samson 30, Rashid 3/14, Noor 2/25) by 9 wickets
Player of the Match – Rashid Khan (3/14)
It was a repeat of last year’s IPL final as defending champions Gujarat Titans took on hosts Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Friday evening. It should be noted that the Royals won the game by 3 wickets when these sides met last in the fixture at Ahmedabad. However, this game proved to be one-sided as GT brushed aside Royals by 9 wickets with more than 6 overs to spare.
GT restrict RR to 118; chase target quickly to improve NRR
RR skipper Sanju Samson opted to bat first after winning the toss and they made a change by bringing in Adam Zampa for Jason Holder who didn’t have the best of games against MI. Gujarat didn’t make any changes to their playing XI from the last game.
Decision to bat first backfired for the Royals as they lost Jos Buttler in the 2nd over of the match and it was Pandya who gave them the breakthrough. Samson played some strokes and RR did score at rapid pace in the powerplay scoring 50 for the loss of 2 wickets. But after that it was a procession of wickets. The fall of Samson’s wicket triggered a collapse as from 61/3 in the 7th over, RR were reduced to 100/8 after 15 overs, with Rashid and Noor Ahmad picking 5 wickets between them. In the end, RR could manage only 118 and didn’t even complete their full quota of 20 overs.
The chase proved to be one sided as Gujarat Titans didn’t have to break a sweat. Openers Wriddhiman Saha and Shubman Gill gave them a good start and the powerplays proved to be highly productive for them as they scored 49 runs in that phase. Though Gill fell for a 36-ball 35, it proved be a straightforward chase for the visitors as Pandya showed what he is capable as his enthralling 15-ball 39 helped GT chase down the target with 43 balls to spare and thus taking care of the net run rate. Saha finished at 41* from 34 balls.
Talking Point: RR’s inconsistent top order
The talking point of the game has to be Rajasthan Royals’ regular batting failure and their inconsistent top-order. The likes of Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Devdutt Padikkal and Shimron Hetmyer have not been amongst runs in the last few games and over-reliance on Yashasvi Jaiswal is exposed with this batting collapse against the Titans.
Let us scan the key performances of the RR vs GT game of IPL 2023
Rashid Khan’s spell floors RR
The spin wizard of the Gujarat Titans took advantage of the favourable spin conditions of Jaipur to spin a web around the Rajasthan Royals batters. After the initial breakthroughs provided by the pacer trio, Rashid Khan ran through RR’s middle-order with 3 wickets to peg back the hosts.
Rashid’s spell of 3/14 in his 4 overs was instrumental in the Royals getting bundled out for 118 without even completing their quota of overs.
Hardik Pandya shows all-round brilliance
Hardik Pandya took the blame upon himself in their failed run-chase against the Delhi Capitals where GT couldn’t chase down 131. But here he not only took the important wicket of Jos Buttler but showed his flash of brilliance with the bat.
On a not so conducive wicket for batting, Hardik struck 3 sixes and as many fours in his unbeaten 15-ball 39* run knock. This not only brought GT an easy win but increased their NRR massively.
Noor Ahmad impresses once again
If Rashid Khan was not enough, RR found another threat in the left-arm chinaman bowler Noor Ahmad. The spinner from Afghanistan has taken 8 wickets in 5 games before this contest and has proved to a wicket-taker in the middle overs for the Titans.
He continued the same here at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium where he picked 2/25 which includes the wickets of Devdutt Padikkal and dangerous Dhruv Jurel. He along with Rashid were a key force in restricting RR to under 120.
Points Table Scenario & What’s Next
GT now have 7 wins in their 10 games and are at the No.1 spot with the best NRR of 0.752. They look like the team to beat and their next game is at home against Lucknow Super Giants on May 7. RR will take on SRH in another home game on May 7 where a win would do them a world of good.