Gujarat Titans' skipper Hardik Pandya admitted that his team were 10-12 runs short with the bat, but had backed his bowlers to defend 156 against Kolkata Knight Riders at the DY Patil Stadium on Saturday.
Pandya top-scored with his third successive IPL fifty, a 49-ball 67, laced with four fours and two sixes. But the batters around and after him completely lost their way in the final five overs, losing seven wickets for just 29 runs as Gujarat made 156/9 in their 20 overs.
But the bowlers, led by Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson and Yash Dayal took four wickets collectively in the first seven overs and pushed KKR back at regular intervals with leg-spinner Rashid Khan coming into play to seal a narrow eight-run win despite Andre Russell threatening to take the match away.
"I thought we were ten-twelve runs short. But I back my bowlers. The wicket played similar throughout the match. I fancy on defending and having Rashid Khan and Lockie Ferguson changes the dynamics. Shami in the powerplay, Alzarri bowling the way he bowled, Yash has bowled a no-ball for the second time and he will get better. When that happened, we were like that game would have been over and it wouldn't have gone this close," said Pandya after the match.
Pandya backed the opening pair of Shubman Gill and Wriddhiman Saha to come good in future matches. Gill has tapered off after sparkling knocks of 84 and 96 while Saha is yet to get a good score after replacing an off-color Matthew Wade.
"I'll play against the odds, it hasn't come so far and must be around the corner. We're backing them and in the middle, we're managing alright. Once they kick in it'll be wonderful. We have three days and I will go back and focus on the things I can control."
Pandya signed off by praising the character shown by the team in successfully defending the lowest total of IPL 2022. "I said by the time the tournament is over I would lose all my hair. As a team, we've been under pressure but the boys have stepped up and showed their character."20220423-210402