IPL 2024: Hardik Pandya’s return to Gujarat ends in dramatic defeat, Jasprit Bumrah’s Song of Ice and Fire in vain | Ipl News

Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya interacting with Rohit Sharma during IPL Cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Titans at Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday Express photo by Nirmal Harindran

GT vs MI, IPL 2024 Synopsis: In a night rich with narrative arcs, Hardik Pandya’s return to Ahmedabad as the opposition captain ended in a dramatic defeat as Mumbai Indians let a run-chase of 169 slip from a winning position. Shubman Gill’s Gujarat Titans won a thriller by 6 runs despite the stage being set for a headline-grabbing finish by Hardik.

There was a smattering of boos at the toss, it got louder when he came on to bowl and conceded a few boundaries in the Powerplay, and got even more definitive after a diving effort to prevent a boundary. Hardik Pandya’s ‘transfer’ was already seen as a game-changer in the league, and it has now brought in a football-like atmosphere to the IPL where former players getting booed has become a reality.

In the end though, as an Australian captain once famously mentioned, he had the chance to silence the Ahmedabad crowd (well, somewhat, given there were still plenty of MI fans). Hardik had the bat in hand and stood confidently at the crease as MI needed 19 off the last over. Umesh Yadav’s first ball was off-pace and short, and was smashed over cover- point in signature style for six. The second ball too was wide of off-stump and was put away for four. It was set up for a grandstand finish but Umesh went for a faster short ball that cramped Hardik for room and he was caught at long-on.

Till then, Hardik had managed to keep a check on his emotions through what was a difficult night. But as he walked off the pitch, he took off his helmet, frustration writ large, and let out some steam. One defeat doesn’t make a season, especially not in the opener for MI who are used to it. But it was an evening of wild emotions for the man in the spotlight.

Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya walks off after being dismissed in the IPL 2024 match against Gujarat Titans at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran) Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya walks off after being dismissed in the IPL 2024 match against Gujarat Titans at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

Credit where it’s dew

The sight of Ashish Nehra pacing around in the dugout is not new in the IPL. He was perhaps even more animated than usual when MI were chipping away at the target, but Gujarat have had immense success because they have a template that works for them. Despite the outfield appearing like a waterslide early on with the amount of dew that was setting in, they didn’t panic and trusted the quality of their bowling unit at the back-end.

Festive offer

Chances have been few and far between in the IPL for R Sai Kishore, but he bowled a terrific spell in the middle overs (1/24) that culminated with the crucial wicket of Rohit Sharma. Rashid Khan’s genius needs no reminder. While his reputation sometimes gets in the way of picking up wickets, he is guaranteed to keep things tight (0/23) as he proved with his two miserly overs in the end-game that ratcheted up the pressure on MI.

Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya and Gujarat Titans' captain Shubman Gill during the toss for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 T20 cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Titans, at Narendra Modi Stadium, in Ahmedabad, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (PTI Photo) Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya and Gujarat Titans’ captain Shubman Gill during the toss for the IPL 2024 match at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. (PTI Photo)

Then Mohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav – two veteran Indian pacers from the 2015 World Cup squad – did their bit at the end. Mohit, “a revelation” since last season, as Gill put it, picked up the crucial wickets of Dewald Brevis and Tim David. And Umesh sealed the deal.

“The way the boys held their nerve with dew coming in, it was outstanding. Especially the way our spinners bowled was amazing and made sure we were always in the game,” Gill said after the match. “We just wanted to build on the pressure and wait for them to make mistakes.”

The mistakes indeed came from the MI batters despite needing just 43 runs from the last five overs as Gujarat completed a heist.

Bumrah’s Song of Ice and Fire

It would be an understatement to say MI missed Jasprit Bumrah last year. On his return to the IPL, the superstar pacer produced a masterclass in T20 bowling as he registered figures of 3/14, conceding just one four in his four-over spell.

The wickets he picked up: Wriddhiman Saha, breaking the opening partnership that had given Gujarat Titans a good start; David Miller, one of the most dangerous finishers in the T20 game; Sai Sudharsan, well set in the middle but gone in the same over as Miller. All three dismissals played a significant role in reducing GT’s potential total.

Two of those three wickets summed up Bumrah, the T20 genius. After mixing up length balls and slower deliveries in his first over of the night to Saha, he fired in the perfect yorker that the batter had no hope in hell of keeping out. You know it is coming at some point, and yet feel helpless when it arrives. It’s fiery.

Then, back to bowl in the death where he is unrivalled in the game perhaps, Bumrah unfurled a classic. As good as his yorkers are, Bumrah’s slower deliveries are in a bowling genre of their own. The same action, the same wrist position till the last moment, and yet an alarming dip in pace. Miller – like Shaun Marsh, Ollie Robinson and many more before him – was undone, ended up looping one to mid off. It’s ice cool.

When in the zone, Bumrah sings a Song of Ice and Fire all by himself. However, his night’s watch had to end with the bat in hand when MI needed 9 off 2 balls.

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