That it never came didn’t exactly disappoint the right-hander, for it meant his team was going really well and that was all that mattered.
Gujarat Titans batter Vijay Shankar
For large parts of Gujarat Titans’s mammoth 233 for three in their allotment of overs in Qualifier 2, the strapping figure of Vijay Shankar hunkered down, padded up and helmeted, waiting for his turn to bat. That it never came didn’t exactly disappoint the right-hander, for it meant his team was going really well and that was all that mattered.
Whatever little disappointment there might have been was lifted by an innings of transcendental luminescence from Shubman Gill, whose magical 129 warmed the cockles of the purist and the diehard T20 fan alike. Seven fours and 10 sixes cascaded off his willow, power beautifully concealed as timing called the shots. Mumbai Indians, facing a near-impossible task at the Narendra Modi Stadium, faded away badly after a bright beginning as Gujarat Titans made it to their second IPL final on the bounce, coming through by a comfortable 62-run margin despite a typically adventurous half-century from the effervescent Suryakumar Yadav.
Mohit seals MI’s fate
Suryakumar had given Mumbai a faint vestige of hope until Mohit Sharma cut out all escape routes with a career-best five for 10, this after only being called on to bowl for the first time in the 15th over. What wealth of riches Hardik Pandya possesses!
Friday night’s effort was Gill’s third hundred in four innings, boosting his tally to 851, by a distance the most runs this season. Shankar, one of three other batsmen to top 300 runs for the defending champions, paid glowing tributes to his young teammate after the Titans set up a clash in the final with Chennai Super Kings.
“I had said earlier in the season that he has amazing work ethics. That’s why he is one of the best cricketers right now,” Shankar gushed. “The way he is batting right now is unbelievable. The way he is striking the ball is so beautiful to watch. Every practice session, he goes out with purpose, he does what he wants. And every time he turns up to the game, it is so lovely to see him switch on from ball one; he’s exceptional.”
33 sixes for Gill
While Gill has hit 33 sixes this year, more than twice what he managed last year, Shankar said there was more to the opener than just the ability to clear the boundary. “His biggest strength, I feel, is finding the gaps in the Powerplay,” Shankar observed. “He can hit those sixes, he hit a lot of sixes today but the beauty of his batting is that he can do both—he can play the ball in the gaps, he can hit the boundaries whenever needed and hit the big ones also. He is someone with everything. He knows when to use what and that’s the highlight of being a top player; he shows us how it is done.”