IPL 2023: Vijay Shankar’s blazing 51 not out propels Gujarat to seven-wicket win over Kolkata

Kolkata, April 29 (IANS) Vijay Shankar stepped up at the right time to smash a blazing 51 off just 24 balls to lead Gujarat Titans to the top of the IPL 2023 points table with a seven-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens here on Saturday.
At 98/3 in 12 overs, Gujarat were in trouble and chasing 180 seemed far-fetched. But for a team that has carved a reputation for acing chases, Shankar slammed two fours and five sixes while sharing a decisive match-winning partnership of 87 runs in just 6.3 overs with David Miller, who was unbeaten on 32, to win with 13 balls to spare.
With the required run-rate around 12, Miller began by cutting Varun Chakaravarthy through extra cover for four, followed by smacking Suyash Sharma for clean sixes over long-off and long-on. Shankar then cut Suyash through point as 18 runs came off the 15th over.
Miller got a life at 26 when Suyash dropped his catch at third man off Russell and Shankar added more salt to the wound by hoicking a six over deep mid-wicket. Shankar came into his own when he pummeled Chakaravarthy for three fantastic sixes — off two slog-sweep and a mighty pull to take 24 runs off the 17th over.
Shankar swept Nitish Rana through square leg for four and brought up his fifty in 24 balls with a powerful six swept over the deep backward square leg before a wide helped them complete the chase with 13 balls to spare.
Chasing 180, Shubman Gill was timing the ball so exquisitely while dealing in fours that kept the crowd quiet. When Andre Russell offered width, he stood tall to slap through extra cover and then followed it up with a smack over the bowler’s head.
His drive through the gap at cover off Harshit Rana was elegant, so as cut past point and cut past cover-point in the third over. After Wriddhiman Saha fell, toe-ending a drag to mid-wicket, Gill swept Chakaravarthy and then pulled off Suyash to collect two fours.
Though the spinners kept things tight, Hardik Pandya thumped Suyash down the ground for four and launched Sunil Narine over deep mid-wicket for six. The crowd found its voice back when Harshit found some inward movement to trap Hardik plumb lbw and Gill toe-ended a loft to long-on off Narine in successive overs. But Shankar and Miller opened up at the right time to ace another chase for Gujarat.
Brief scores:
Kolkata Knight Riders 179/7 in 20 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 81, Andre Russell 34; Mohammed Shami 3-33, Noor Ahmad 2-21) lost to Gujarat Titans 180/3 in 17.5 overs (Vijay Shankar 51 not out, Shubman Gill 49; Sunil Narine 1-24, Harshit Rana 1-25) by 7 wickets

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