Mohit, Noor and Rashid stifle big-hitting Sunrisers to set up Titans victory

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Gujarat Titans 168 for 3 (Sai Sudharsan 45, Miller 44*, Cummins 1-28) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 162 for 8 (Samad 29, Abhishek 29, Mohit 3-25, Noor 1-32) by seven wickets

Pat Cummins won the toss in Ahmedabad, but unlike the ODI World Cup final, he did not make the right call as Sunrisers Hyderabad’s score of 162 for 8 was comfortably chased by Gujarat Titans in Ahmedabad to make it 11 wins out of 12 for home teams in IPL 2024.

Noor Ahmad, Mohit Sharma and former Sunriser Rashid Khan suffocated the big-hitting team in orange to keep them down to a below-par score, and as the surface got better in the evening, the Titans rode on contributions from Shubman Gill, Sai Sudharsan and David Miller to see them through.

Noor, Rashid rock Sunrisers

An afternoon start in Ahmedabad promised a dry surface with help for spinners, and that’s why Cummins wanted Sunrisers to make first use of the pitch. Expecting the same, the Titans dropped fast bowler Spencer Johnson to give left-arm wristspinner Noor his first outing of the season.

Noor struck in his first over when he got a googly to rattle Travis Head’s stumps right after the powerplay before the opener could do heavy damage. Noor’s googly was particularly effective on this surface. He bowled 13 of them and only conceding ten runs. His spell of 1 for 32, numbers partly ruined by some late hits from Sunrisers, gave Titans their first foothold in this game.

Noor’s bowling also lifted his senior Afghanistan team-mate Rashid, who conceded 49 against Chennai Super Kings in his last game and started Sunday’s spell with a 15-run over courtesy Abhishek Sharma’s twin sixes.

However, Rashid returned strongly to keep Heinrich Klaasen relatively quiet, and eventually he took him out as well, a skiddy legbreak going on to shatter the stumps in the 14th over. Rashid then made an equal contribution next over in Aiden Markram’s dismissal when he dived forward to complete a difficult catch running in from long-on. He finished with 1 for 33 and apart from that catch, also played a role in Abdul Samad’s run-out in the final over.

Mohit leaves Sunrisers short

Unlike the Mumbai Indians game – where every Sunrisers batter who got starts went big – they fell after getting set this time. Perhaps the idea was to maximise the runs that a hard-hitting batting-order could generate, but on this occasion, they were dismissed before the big flourish.

One of them was Abhishek, dismissed for 29 via a Mohit cutter. Mohit slowed things down and forced an error from Abhishek by getting a length ball wide and forcing a mis-hit to cover. With the surface assisting pace-off deliveries, Mohit bowled another tidy over against Klaasen and Markram to finish his first spell for 1-12. Titans saved the rest of his overs for the death and he showed just why they do that, conceding only 13 further runs and picking up two more wickets.

Mohit was instrumental in Sunrisers scoring only 40 runs in their last five overs. The only six he conceded was when he delivered a full toss, but otherwise his playlist of change-up deliveries worked wonderfully. After dismissing Shahbaz Ahmed and Washington Sundar in the 20th over, Mohit led the team out with only 163 to chase, and earned a well-deserved rest, substituted by Sudharsan for the second innings.

Titans’ top three gel well

Like the Titans, the Sunrisers too made a strategic change from their previous game by opting for Washington as the impact player instead of Umran Malik. They also started the bowling innings with Shahbaz’s left-arm orthodox spin.

But it soon got clear that as afternoon turned to evening, the pitch had eased off. Wriddhiman Saha began in trademark fashion, attacking the new ball and hit his former Bengal team-mate Shahbaz for a six in the opening over. He then ran down the pitch to hammer Bhuvneshwar Kumar straight back and accepted a gift from Umesh Yadav to deposit a full toss over the leg side. Even though Saha fell in the fifth over to Shahbaz, his 13-ball 25 had given Titans a quick start and allowed Gill to find his feet.

From scoring only 11 in his first 12 balls, Gill hit 25 runs off his next 16 to accelerate after the powerplay. He relied on the odd boundary amid risk-free grounded shots to keep the score moving. Even though Gill holed out for 36 right after the first time-out in the tenth over, he did what Saha helped him do, letting the No. 3 Sudharsan also settle.

Sudharsan struggled to put Markande and Cummins away initially, but changed gears in the 12th over when he found his second boundary against Jaydev Unadkat by driving over mid-off. He then clubbed Cummins and Washington in the space of three balls and played his best shot when he came down the track to hammer Markande for six. Cummins did dismiss him with a slower ball for 45 in the 17th over, but by then the win was almost guaranteed.

Miller puts finishing touch

The year 2024 has been a forgettable one for Miller after two fantastic years of T20 cricket. Coming into the game, he had a strike rate of 119, his lowest in 13 years, and his struggles looked to surface when he could not find a boundary in his first 16 deliveries. But then came a small break as Miller got some treatment for a niggle. After that, he looked a player transformed.

With his mobility hampered, Miller decided there was no point holding anything back and pounced on Markande’s predictable full-and-wide deliveries to club a 26-run 16th over. He then picked Cummins’ slower balls to club both of them for four in the 17th. And when Unadkat delivered the first ball of the 20th, Miller saw it land in his arc, and expectedly, sent it out of the park to finish unbeaten on 44.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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