IPL 2023: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Gujarat Titans, Match 39 - Talking Points and Who Said What?

Gujarat Titans avenged their last-over defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders in Ahmedabad by clinching a comfortable seven-wicket victory over KKR at Eden Gardens.

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Kolkata Knight Riders vs Gujarat Titans
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Gujarat Titans. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

The 39th match of Indian Premier League 2023 saw Kolkata Knight Riders and Gujarat Titans battling it out at the iconic Eden Gardens. The first encounter between these two teams in IPL 2023 is widely remembered for Rinku Singh's flamboyance, who stole the match from GT's grip with a sensational streak of five sixes in a row. However, the defending champions did manage to square it off in the reverse clash as they clinched a seven-wicket victory over KKR.

Winning the toss, GT put the home side to bat first and what followed was a sensational innings by Rahmanullah Gurbaz that steered KKR to post a total of 179/4 on the board. Mohammad Shami starred for GT with the ball, picking up three wickets against 33 runs. Retaliating, GT rode on the unconquered stand of 87 runs between David Miller and Vijay Shankar to comfortably take the game home with seven wickets and 13 balls to spare.

Let's look at the Talking Points from today's game -

Vijay Shankar and David Miller come together to guide GT home

Following the loss of Hardik Pandya and Shubman Gill in quick succession, David Miller and Vijay Shankar took the onus of driving GT home, at a point when they were in a tricky position, with a score of 93/3. Shankar and Miller then put up an unconquered 87-run stand to complete the proceedings for the visitors. Owing to their valiant strokeplay, the stand came up in just 39 balls. 

Shankar scored 51 off 24 balls with the help of two fours and as many as five maximums. Miller, on the other hand, contributed with 32 runs off 18 balls, courtesy of two fours and as many sixes.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz fills in for Jason Roy with style

Jason Roy, who was having a phenomenal run in KKR colours before missing out on the clash against GT, was aptly replaced by Afghan opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz who gave it his all to not let the opportunity slip off. Gurbaz was a regular in the KKR squad before Roy's arrival but had to sit out in the last few matches as the Englishman was going all guns blazing ever since taking up the willow in IPL 2023. 

In the clash against GT, Gurbaz found his way back to the playing XI and made an appearance to reckon for the Nitish Rana-led side. He played a remarkable knock of 81 off just 39 deliveries, at a jaw-dropping strike rate of 207.69. His knock was studded with five fours and seven maximums and guided KKR to put up a competitive, although slightly below par, total of 179/7. He was eventually dismissed by his compatriot Noor Ahmad in the 16th over. 

Andre Russell's shadow of vintage self helps KKR power down the order

After Gurbaz's exploits, KKR was graced with the return of Andre Russell to his vintage avatar as the Carribbean took care of the lower order with his quickfire cameo of 34, which came off just 19 deliveries at a strike rate of 178.95.

His hard-hit run, which helped KKR post a target of 180 for GT, was backed by two fours and three sixes. He was finally sent back by Mohammad Shami on the very final ball of the innings. 

Losing Captain, Nitish Rana said -

I think we were 20-25 runs short, up against top teams, we can't be this sloppy with the bat. We didn't get partnerships developing, other than Gurbaz and Russell, no one else, including me, scored. If we got a good partnership in the middle overs, we could have done better. In crucial games and against top oppositions, you need to do all the basics well in all the three departments of the game. The batting was ok today, but we didn't bowl well. Need to do well in the small moments, bowl according to the plan and do the basics well.

Winning Captain, Hardik Pandya said -

(On Noor and Little) They got us back in the game and they kept us in the hunt. The way Gurbaz batted - he was hitting good balls with some conviction and clarity. The way they (Noor and Little) bowled was great. I would have taken 180 on that wicket any given day. In a group, we know that to win the game, irrespective of the situation, we have to play good cricket. that humbleness is helping us win games of cricket. They are respecting the situation, we want to face it and it is just about playing good cricket and being smart. (On Vijay Shankar) He is a fitter Vijay Shankar, more confident and the amount of hard work he has put in is terrific. His hits changed the game and moving forward, we can expect more of the same. I always felt that good people get to good places and he is certainly one of those.

Player of the Match, Joshua Little said -

I just spoke to Hardik before the game and we talked about keeping it as simple as possible - hitting the hard lengths, and happy that I could do it today. The first game of the season was always going to be nerves. I have settled in nicely now. (On his plan on this pitch) It was just about smashing back of a length and letting the ball do the talking.

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