Gujarat Titans play like champions, thrash Mumbai Indians by 55 runs

Synopsis: David Miller showcases his calm violence, Rahul Tewatia aces his incredible ball sense, and Mohammad Shami presents powerplay masterclass as Gujarat Titans boss Mumbai Indians by 55 runs

Half-way into their batting innings, Gujarat Titans decided to show why they are the defending champions with a powerhouse finish with the bat and a masterly performance with the ball to not just defend 207 but send a warning to the competition by tying Mumbai up in knots.

Miller’s calm violence

He might be having a tough time inspiring his team, but Hyderabad’s coach Brian Lara had made one valid point the other day. “We need to have guys who are thinking the game throughout right till the end. There are some great examples in the IPL. (Rahul) Tewatia, (David) Miller, we do need that sort of person to understand how to calculate going down, who are the bowlers going to come and plan properly.”

At one stage, Gujarat Titans seemed to have lost their way a bit, especially when they were 103 for 4 in 13 overs, with three batsmen holing out. But Miller had his calculations ticking, going after the balls in his slot and allowing his partner Abhinav Manohar to take the risks. Manohar would follow his team’s pre-game plan of going after Mumbai’s best bowler Piyush Chawla.

In the 15th over, Manohar crashed two balls with width outside off to the extra cover boundary before charging out to land the ball over the sight screen. Miller continued his management role, unfurling the risk-free big hits, while Manohar walloped two successive maximums off Cameron Green.
Miller’s risk-free sixes are worth dwelling upon, as the power-hitting coach Julian Wood explained to this newspaper. “He gets into good positions and stays there. As in you don’t see him go out of shape, when he is hitting well. He doesn’t get too close to the ball. He can play straight but he can also manoeuvre the ball to other areas pretty dominantly. No unnecessary grasping or lunging at the ball. More self-confidence these days I notice to wait for the ball. He is strong and has quick hands; so he can do that. He is a proper batsman who gets access to the ball. It looks like he has worked out his game.”

With a judicious mix of what Wood says (the hitting skill) and what Lara says (when and whom to go after), Miller has certainly worked out his game.

Tewatia’s ball-sense

And that leaves us with Tewatia. When he entered the scene, he didn’t have to work out which bowler to go after as there were not many balls left; he had to go after everything. It came to his incredible ball sense, and astute shot selection to go with it. The hitting skill itself stems from the fluid bat flow and the arm speed to complete the hand-eye coordination but the best thing about Tewatia lies between his ears.

His first six off the first ball he faced in the 19th over could have been predicted by any regular Tewatia watcher. He rightly sensed that it would be a slower ball from Meredith, then did his shimmy-act: as if he was going down leg, then the quick shuffle across, then the rapid going-down on his knee to execute the slog sweep. The second of the two sixes in the final over was a gem. Once again the shimmy act ended up outside off stump as he sensed it was a slower one, but he didn’t commit by going down on his knee this time. It was the slower shortish ball, and he was ready; waited and waited before swatting it over fine-leg for a wonderful six.

Shami’s powerplay class

Gujarat’s bowling attack is as varied and potent as their batting, but their star is Shami in the powerplay. On Tuesday night, he exposed Ishan Kishan with a series of seaming deliveries from back of length. They kept angling away sharply, teasing and tormenting Kishan, who stabbed at thin air. At one stage, in the 3rd over, Kishan was forced into an awkward across-the-line stab to a delivery that had left him a while back, triggering a bemused Shami to throw a look of disdain at him. Shami continued to harass him to finish with figures of 3-0-12-0 with the new ball.

Shami’s length continued to remain back of length; to Rohit he had moved the ball away, to Kishan, he had seamed the ball across the batsman. Shami didn’t get the wickets, but the others reaped the benefit from his toil. Hardik had got it to skid from back of length and away from Rohit, who had predetermined to help it to the on side, and got a leading edge back to the bowler. Hardik too followed Shami’s length – getting his seamers to start from back of length and was at his nippy best. With Mumbai reeling at 29 for 1 at the end of the powerplay, and 59 for 5 in the 11th over, it was clear that the game was heading in just one direction

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