Three centuries in four innings, scored within 11 days- that is the kind of form Shubman Gill is in. Add to that, three of IPL 2023's top four wicket-takers, and how would Gujarat Titans not reach the final?
They did have to take the longest route to the summit clash, playing two playoffs games, but Hardik Pandya's team are truly living up to the Defending Champions tag, specially after a comprehensive 62-run win over Mumbai Indians in Friday's Qualifier 2 in Ahmedabad.
Shubman Gill's sensational 129 off 60 balls followed by veteran pacer Mohit Sharma's impressive fifer (5/10) helped Gujarat Titans close a comprehensive victory and set up Sunday's trophy clash against MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings. Co-incidentally, the first match of IPL 2023 was also between Gujarat and Chennai at the very same venue, on 31 March.
Gill's third century of IPL 2023, an exhibition of timing and placement of the highest class and it propelled Gujarat Titans to a mammoth 233/3, the highest score in the history of playoffs. Chasing 234 was always going to be an uphill task for Mumbai after losing Ishan Kishan to concussion and they eventually folded up for 171 in 18.2, with Mohit taking a sensational 5/10 after being introduced in the bowling attack from 15th over.
Shubman Show in Gujarat's Innings
After Rohit Sharma put Gujarat in to bat first, Shubman Gill put on a six-hitting exhibition in Ahmedabad, hitting ten sixes and seven fours in taking Mumbai's bowlers to the cleaners all over the park, apart from running hard between the wickets and becoming leading run-getter of IPL 2023.
During his innings of 129, he also overtook Faf du Plessis to become the leading run-scorer this season, with his tally now at 851 runs from 16 matches.
The first 30 balls Shubman faced, saw him make 48 runs, before switching gears in thrilling fashion to slam 79 runs in his next 30 balls. Gill also had luck on his side -- being dropped on 30 by Tim David, which proved to be a very costly drop as he made 99 runs off 40 balls post that.
Pushed into batting first, Gill got going by flicking off Cameron Green for four, followed by Wriddhiman Saha using the same shot off Jason Behrendorff for a boundary. After being hit on the helmet by a skiddy bouncer from Akash Madhwal, Saha danced down the pitch to slash the pacer over point for four.
Post the duo taking a leg-side boundary each off Behrendorff, Gill welcomed Chris Jordan in the last over of power-play with a well-timed pull over deep square leg for six, followed by a ferocious cut through cover for four. He also got a life in the same over on 30 when Tim David shelled a tough diving catch at mid-on.
Gujarat lost their first wicket when Piyush Chawla had Saha stumped down leg. After surviving a stumping scare on 36, Gill danced down the pitch to loft Chawla down the ground for six. From the other end, Sai Sudharsan flicked off him for four, followed by cover-driving and lofting off Green and Jordan for four and six respectively.
After Gill reached his fifty in 32 balls, he picked length early in sweeping Kartikeya for six. He welcomed a returning Madhwal by picking up a flick beautifully and muscled a pull for back-to-back sixes, and followed it up with a flick off the wrists to collect third six of 21-run 12th over.
When Chawla came back, Gill was quick to dance down the pitch and loft beautifully over bowler's head for six, followed by picking a four off a paddle-sweep. Gill again danced down the pitch to smack Chawla over wide long-on for another six as 20 runs came off the 13th over.
After Gill reached his century in 49 balls, he launched Green for a massive six down the ground and pulled twice to pick four and six (via a stunning forehand jab) through the leg-side. Gill opened bat-face late to square-drive Jordan for four, followed by Sudharsan hitting back-to-back boundaries to take 17 runs off 16th over.
Gill carted Madhwal over extra cover for four, but holed out to David at deep mid-wicket in the 17th over. Sudharsan and Hardik Pandya hit three boundaries between themselves before the former was retired out ahead of the final over. Hardik and Rashid Khan hit a four each in the final over, before the former slammed Jordan for six on the last ball to take Gujarat above 230.
In Mumbai's chase, Mohammed Shami struck in his very first over when makeshift opener Nehal Wadhera went for a pull, only to edge behind. Cameron Green got going with a first-ball four, but retired hurt in second over after being hit on left forearm while trying to fend off Hardik.
Shami struck again as Rohit Sharma top-edged a pull to fine leg. Tilak Varma got going by flicking and pulling for two sixes in his first four balls. The left-handed batter smashed Shami for four consecutive boundaries -- via late cut, pull and driving twice, before pulling him for six to take 24 runs off the fifth over as Mumbai raced to 65/2.
Rashid brought an end to Varma's cameo as the youngster missed a straighter delivery on sweep and was castled. Green returned to resume his innings and along with Suryakumar Yadav, the duo hit four boundaries and two sixes collectively against Rashid and Noor Ahmad.
Their partnership came to an end when Green was castled in 12th over while trying to pull off Josh Little. Suryakumar hit fours off Noor and Little, before reaching his fifty in 33 balls with a scooped six off the latter, followed by welcoming Mohit with a pulled maximum.
But the pacer bounced back immediately as Suryakumar went for another scoop, and saw his leg-stump castled. Concussion substitute Vishnu Vinod also fell to Mohit after spooning a catch to cover, followed by Tim David trapped lbw by Rashid. Mohit took the remaining three wickets to clinch a five-wicket haul in just 14 balls, thus sealing Gujarat's place in the final.