LSG trumps GT in battle of spinners

Image: IPL

In a low-scoring game, Lucknow Super Giants defended 163 by 33 runs. Gujarat Titans started off well, but lost wickets in clusters in the middle overs to fold up for 130 in 18.5 overs. Here’s how things panned out…

Umesh rolls back the years

At 36 years of age, international cricket is over for Umesh Yadav. His form in the IPL has been inconsistent. But when the senior fast bowler gets into a nice rhythm, he can still be a handful. On Sunday, against LSG, he straight away got into the groove and dismissed Quinton de Kock in the very first over.

A back-of-a-length delivery that stopped on the surface a little bit did the trick. De Kock was fresh from hitting a six two balls previously. He tried to repeat the shot but played it a little too early. The leading edge went to Noor Ahmad at third man.

Umesh accounted for Devdutt Padikkal in his next over, the ball nipping away and taking a thick outside edge to Vijay Shankar at wide slip. After two overs, Umesh’s figures read 2-10. GT captain Shubman Gill smartly gave him a third over and although it was uneventful, bar an overthrow for a five, Umesh’s first spell pegged the rivals back.

Rahul-Stoinis do rebuilding

The highlight of a 73-run (62 balls) second wicket partnership between KL Rahul and Marcus Stoinis was a back-cut from the former against Noor Ahmad. The chinaman bowler had started off with a googly. Rahul waited for it, opened the face of the bat at the last moment and bisected the backward point and sweeper cover. Superb shot.

Two early wickets didn’t allow the duo to go gung-ho. They had a rebuilding job to do on a tricky pitch. A subdued powerplay saw LSG reach 47-2 after six overs. In fact, all along their partnership, Rahul and Stoinis went at less than eight runs per over. Rashid Khan & Co weren’t offering freebies and the two LSG batters chose to be content.

Eventually, Rahul (33, 31 balls) tried to force the pace, but perished to Darshan Nalkande. The ball was in the slot, but LSG captain mistimed his shot and holed out to Rahul Tewatia at long-on.

Stoinis (58, 43 balls), who had a reprieve on 43, took two sixes off Nalkande in an over, but trying to go for a third, he cue-ended a back-of-a-length delivery behind the stumps.

GT’s spin-punch

Rashid gave away just 28 runs in his four overs, and when Ayush Badoni was trying to up the ante after taking Mohit Sharma to the cleaners, the leg-spinner snapped him up with a googly. The change of pace did the trick, as Badoni couldn’t connect his slog-sweep properly and skied the ball to Umesh at deep mid-wicket.

Noor conceded only 22 runs in his four overs and should have had Stoinis’s scalp, but for the dropped catch. Between the two spinners, they only gave away one four and a six.


Bishnoi plucks it out of thin air

GT had a steady start. Although Gill was going slow, Sai Sudharsan was setting the stadium alight with some gorgeous shots. The southpaw is a lovely timer of the ball and he has a natural ability to find the gaps. At 54 for no loss in the sixth over, GT looked well on course. But Yash Thakur dismissed the GT skipper and Ravi Bishnoi got the better of Kane Willamson close on its heels.

It was a blinder. Williamson tried to punch a tossed-up delivery over the bowler’s head, but the ball popped up to Bishnoi’s right. The leggie went the other way on his follow through, but he leapt to his right, stuck his hand out and grabbed a stunner. LSG suddenly slid to 56-2. The game changed.

Krunal comes to the party

GT were given an inch. They had to take a mile. Someone had to rise to the occasion. Cometh the hour, cometh Krunal Pandya. Wicketless coming into this game, the left-arm spinner first dismissed a well-set Sai Sudharsan by holding one back a little and forcing a mistimed shot at deep mid-wicket.

In the same over, Krunal removed BR Sharath — in for the injured Wriddhiman Saha — as the ball yet again stuck in the surface a bit.

Nalkande’s wicket was a lucky break, as the batsman hit a long-hop straight to Thakur at short fine leg. GT slumped to 80-5. Thakur then removed Vijay Shankar and Rashid in the same over to make it 93-7. Game over.

Thakur went on to complete a fifer (5-30). But Krunal’s spell (3-11) did the real damage to GT’s run chase.

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