Rajasthan Royals look clueless at home as Gujarat Titans move closer to playoff qualification with a dominant win

Gujarat Titans recorded a nine-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals

Rajasthan Royals missed a huge opportunity to top the Indian Premier League 2023 points table as they suffered an embarrassing nine-wicket defeat against Gujarat Titans at home on Friday. 

The reigning champions proved their dominance in every department as Rajasthan Royals failed to click from the beginning. Sanju Samson won the toss and elected to bat first at Jaipur’s Sawai Mansingh Stadium as the home side dropped Jason Holder in order to boost their impressive spin attack further with Australian ace Adam Zampa.

The Titans skipper Hardik Pandya quickly made the Royals regret the decision to bat first with a big wicket of Jos Buttler in the second over. The struggling English opener continues to fail to provide good starts after a sensational start to IPL 2023 season. Samson, playing in the no.3 position, seemed in the mood for a big knock and to end his miserable individual form. 

Samson and the last game’s centurion Yashasvi Jaiswal added 36 runs for the second wicket as the Royals seemed on track for another mammoth total.

But Rajasthan lost Yashasvi in the sixth over and then they never recovered throughout their innings. Samson kept the runs flowing from one end but was dismissed on Joshua Little’s delivery in the seventh over. The Royals’ skipper top-scored with 30 off 20 with the help of two fours and one huge six. 

Rashid Khan won the Player of the Match award for his three big wickets

After Samson’s dismissal, Gujarat Giants brought in their spin attack of Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad. Both Afghan stars quickly made an impact and totally left Rajasthan players clueless. Rashid emerged as the best bowler with three wickets while conceding just 14 runs off his three-over spell. 

Noor picked two wickets as he took his wickets tally to 10 in just six IPL innings. Abhinav Manohar put Rajasthan out of their misery as he dismissed Zampa on a stunning direct throw in the 18th over. Rajasthan made 118 in 17.5 overs, their lowest score of this season.

Rajasthan’s camp also had three world-class quality spin options in their setup, so, defending 118 runs was not an impossible task at home but the home fans were forced to scratch their head as it looked like Gujarat Titans were playing on a totally different pitch. 

Wriddhiman Saha needed a big knock to end his poor run of form and the veteran was quick to follow that with two back-to-back fours off Trent Boult in the very first over. Shubman Gill also joined his senior partner as the opening duo killed off any chances of Rajasthan’s early comeback. 

Samson seemed confident in his pace attack of Trent Boult and Sandeep Sharma as the duo shared all powerplay overs. Gill took a defensive approach and allowed Saha to play freely. Saha smashed Boult for another two fours in the fifth over and Gill paced up his innings with two pleasant boundaries off Sandeep in the next over. The duo’s balanced approach helped Gujarat Titans dominate powerplay overs with 49 runs without any loss.

Rajasthan’s think tank introduced spin in the seventh over with Zampa bowling ahead of the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal. But Gill welcomed the Australian star with a four towards a deep backward point. Chahal managed to get some help on the ball in the next over as he conceded just four runs. 

The IPL 2022 Purple Cap winner gave Rajasthan Royals a breakthrough in the 10th over with Gill’s big wicket. Gill failed to calculate the delivery as he went down the pitch for a big shot but the delivery was too slow and the starlet failed to get back to the crease within time. But once again, Rajasthan bowlers failed to convert that opening into more wickets.

Hardik promoted himself to the no.3 position and smashed 23 runs in five deliveries off Zampa’s bowling in the eleventh over. He started with a six on the first delivery and produced two more sixes and a four to silence the home crowd.

Samson finally brought Ashwin, Rajasthan Royals’ leading wicket-taker this season, in the attack but at the time Gujarat Titans were chasing 13 runs off 48 balls. Hardik and Saha took five singles off Chahal in the 14th over and recorded a nine-wicket win with 37 balls remaining.

Hardik remained unbeaten at 39 runs off just 15 balls with the help of three fours and three sixes while Saha played an unbeaten innings of 36 runs off 35 balls. Rashid bagged the Player of the Match award for his spell of three wickets for 14 runs but it was a team effort that definitely suited their position at the top of the points table.

Rajasthan Royals remain fourth in the IPL 2023 points table with five wins from ten games and Gujarat Titans further cemented their place at the top of the table with 14 points from 10 games. 

The defending champions wouldn’t want a break in this form and they wouldn’t get one as they next host Lucknow Supergiants on Sunday afternoon whilst the Royals will play Sunrisers Hyderabad later on the same day.