Gujarat Titans 182 for 5 (Gill 63, Hangargekar 3-36) beat Chennai Super Kings 178 for 7 (Gaikwad 92, Rashid 2-26, Shami 2-29) by five wickets
Ruturaj Gaikwad marked his return from a wrist injury with a sublime 92 off 50 balls, and set Chennai Super Kings on track for a 200-plus score, but a middle-overs slowdown, triggered by Alzarri Joseph, limited them to 178 for 7. That total looked even more subpar when Shubman Gill extended his rich form across formats with another half-century. But his dismissal and IPL debutant Rajvardhan Hangargekar's variations at the death gave Super Kings an opening. It came down to Titans needing 30 from the last three overs, and despite the absence of Kane Williamson, who injured himself in the field, and David Miller (national duty), they completed the job in familiar fashion with Rashid Khan and Rahul Tewatia finding the crucial late boundaries.
Impact of Impact Player rule
Williamson's knee injury, sustained while attempting to save a six off Gaikwad's bat, tested Titans' batting depth and perhaps didn't allow them to use the Impact Player rule as well as they would have liked to. If Williamson had been available to bat, Titans would likely have used him as their anchor and would have probably brought in Abhinav Manohar as their Impact Player down the order.
B Sai Sudharsan, who ended up replacing Williamson as the Impact Player, started brightly at No. 3, but a legcutter from Hangargekar cut his innings short at 22 off 17 balls.
Earlier, Tushar Deshpande became the first Impact Player in the IPL when he came in for Ambati Rayudu during Super Kings' defence. Deshpande found some swing in the early exchanges and then had Gill holing out for 63, but was left with only seven to defend in the final over. Tewatia finished it off with four balls to spare.
Before the start of IPL 2023, Gaikwad had not played competitive cricket for two months and had joined the CSK camp in Chepauk late after undergoing rehab at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru. He showed no signs of rust and quickly set to work with a brace of punched fours off Hardik Pandya.
Devon Conway was bowled through the gate by Mohammed Shami for 1, but Gaikwad went on to play a range of sparkling shots, particularly against the seamers. Josh Little, the first Ireland player to feature in the IPL, was swatted over square leg for six while Joseph was hooked over the midwicket boundary for six more. Gaikwad charged to a half-century off just 23 balls, and when it seemed like a century was almost inevitable, Joseph had him splicing a full toss to long-on.
When Dube came out to bat at No.6, Super Kings were well placed at 121 for 4 in the 13th over. Joseph and Hardik kept peppering Dube's body with short balls and he just couldn't get the pull away. According to ESPNcricinfo's logs, 13 of the 17 balls he faced were short or short-of-good-length deliveries and he could manage only one boundary off them. His go-slow sent Super Kings' innings spiralling out of control.
After conceding 18 runs in his first over, Joseph hit back to give up only 15 from his next three while taking out Gaikwad and Ravindra Jadeja.
Gill and Hangargekar sparkle
Gill matched Gaikwad shot for shot. It is often fiendishly difficult to step out and hit Mitchell Santner and Jadeja for boundaries, but Gill made it look ridiculously easy. He also targeted Deshpande, taking him for 23 off 11 balls before ultimately falling to him.
After bowling an over in the powerplay, Hangargekar also fronted up to bowl at the death and tricked Vijay Shankar (27 off 21) with a slower ball in the 18th over. His yorkers and cutters even had Super Kings' former death-overs specialist and current bowling coach Dwayne Bravo applauding from the dugout. When Hangargekar finished his shift with 4-0-36-3, Titans needed 23 off the last two overs. Rashid and Tewatia sealed victory for Titans, who made it 3-0 against Super Kings.