Hardik Pandya stole the show at the D Y Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai on Thursday.
Put in to bat by Rajasthan Royals Captain Sanju Samson, Gujarat Titans lost three quick wickets and with the scoreboard reading 54 for 3 in 7 overs, GT had to get their act together or face their second defeat in the IPL.
- GT vs RR Scorecard
No sooner did Hardik come to the crease, he made his intent known. He smoked pacer Kuldeep Sen for 14 runs, and once he had Abhinav Manohar at the other end, the duo made merry, even stitching together an 86-run stand.
Hardik played freely, paced his innings, nailed the big shots to perfection. When the big shots were drying up off his bat, he was content with the singles and twos and let Manohar go after the bowling.
But when the opportunity came with the bad balls he didn’t shy from logging in the fours himself. He got to his fifty in the 14th over with a shot over backward point for a four.
Once he got to his fifty, Hardik went after Ravichandran Ashwin, clobbering 16 runs off his over.
Hardik then build another 50-plus partnership with David Miller at the back end to ensure that GT had enough to defend.
Chasing 193 for victory, Rajasthan got off to a flyer thanks to Jos Buttler, but once he got out, Rajasthan had their hopes in Samson. But Sanju was dismissed for 11 after Hardik forced a run-out with a sensational direct hit from mid-off.
Although suffering from cramps, Hardik came on to bowl — he picked a wicket, that of Jimmy Neesham in his 2.3 overs giving just 18 runs.
Hardik was inspirational with both bat and in the field and there was no one more worthy of being the top performer of the game.
How amazing have Gujarat Titans been under Hardik’s able leadership!
And now with four wins from 5 matches, the proof is in the pudding.
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