Wriddhiman Saha’s unbeaten 67 led the Gujarat Titans to a thumping seven-wicket win over the Chennai Super Kings on Sunday.
Chasing a tricky 134 for victory, table-toppers Gujarat reached the target with five balls to spare on the back of Saha’s 57-ball knock at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium. Proteas batsman David Miller finished with 15* off 20 balls.
A disciplined attack led by fast bowler Mohammed Shami set up the win for Gujarat. Shami returned figures of 2-19, including the key wickets of Devon Conway (five) and skipper MS Dhoni (seven), to restrict title holders Chennai to 133-5.
The four-time winners slumped to their ninth loss in 13 matches to stay just one spot above the bottom-placed Mumbai Indians in the 10-team table.
Gujarat, one of two newcomers to the T20 tournament and the first team to qualify for the playoffs, now have 10 victories in 13 matches.
The top two teams among the four in the playoffs will have a second shot at making the title clash even if they lose their first qualifier on 24 May.
They will play the winner of the eliminator – between teams three and four – in the second qualifier to have a chance of entering the final scheduled for 29 May in Ahmedabad.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Saha stood firm during the chase despite losing his opening partner Shubman Gill (18) and then Australia’s Matthew Wade (20).
Sri Lanka medium-pace bowler Matheesha Pathirana took two wickets, including skipper Hardik Pandya (seven), but Saha kept the chase on track and hit the winning boundary.
Chennai earlier faltered with the bat when they failed to build on a gritty 53 by opener Ruturaj Gaikwad.
The Gujarat bowlers squeezed the flow of runs as Chennai managed just 24 from the final five overs with Rashid Khan, Alzarri Joseph and Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore each taking one wicket.
Players from both teams wore black armbands in memory of Australia’s white-ball great Andrew Symonds, who tragically died in a car crash on Saturday.
© Agence France-Presse