GT’s tenacity prevails over MI might

Gujarat Titans celebrate their last over win (Credit:

Tenacity is an important aspect in sports. It is handy when tackling adversities and a tool to turn things around from situations of despair. When the chips are down and things don’t go the way as planned, persistence can bring you back. It requires conviction in your own methods, the skill to execute plans and a bit of luck.

Gujarat Titans showed all these and more in the IPL 2024 match against Mumbai Indians on Sunday night. With 43 needed from five overs and seven wickets in hand, it was MI’s match to lose. After switching over from GT, Hardik Pandya was set for a win against his former team in his first match as MI captain. That’s when the rug was pulled from under their feet.

There were no stunning yorkers shattering the stumps or any devil in the pitch. It was the resolve of the GT bowlers, their discipline and belief in themselves, nerves in the MI ranks, some dodgy calls in selecting the batting order, smart fielding and the age-old strategy of keeping things simple which did the trick. It was easier said than done because it required steel to execute plans under pressure.

Mohit Sharma, Rashid Khan, Spencer Johnson, Umesh Yadav — other than the leg-spinner from Afghanistan, these are not menacing names. They command respect alright, but not awe. Most of them are not death-over specialists either. Yet, they stuck to their plans in those overs, followed instructions barked by coach Ashish Nehra and got the job done.
The situation demanded restraint and calmness. Adrenaline rush could have been counterproductive. The margin for error being non-existent in such conditions in a T20 game, they could not afford silly mistakes or unforced errors. That’s what the bowlers did. The odd hit cleared the fence and there were some narrow misses. Undeterred, they delivered.

Credit has to be given to Shubman Gill, who led with assurance and did not get hassled when a youngster like him could have. He was helped, undoubtedly, by some experienced heads around and coach Nehra, but ultimately it was he who took those critical calls of where to place the fielders and when to make those bowling changes. It was Gill’s day. His plans clicked.

Was there any secret? No. It is an open secret that sticking to basics and keeping things simple remain important. Yes, there is need for innovation and improvisation. With due respect to these, simplicity is still relevant. It works when the opposition is trying to outthink you. They expect the unexpected and are caught by surprise when the expected is delivered.

The 19th over bowled by Spencer Johnson was a perfect example. The IPL debutant had gone for 17 in his first over and a repeat could have killed the contest considering that MI needed 27 off 12 balls at that stage. The Australian left-arm quick is brisk but not express. He doesn’t have those toe-crushers or mesmerising slower balls. What he has is the ability to cram batters for room.

It takes some doggedness and steadfastness to pull that off, though. And that’s what the GT bowlers showed when they didn’t have another option. In T20 and the IPL, surprise matters. In the critical last stage of this match, it was the lack of surprise which did the trick. GT had the last laugh when the going got tough because they believed in tenacity and followed it to the ‘T’.

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