Kuldeep Sen goes from hero to zero in one over as GT end RR's winning streak in IPL 2024 | Crickit
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Kuldeep Sen goes from hero to zero in one over as GT end RR's winning streak in IPL 2024

Apr 11, 2024 12:41 AM IST

Royals pacer takes three wickets before conceding 20 in penultimate over as Gujarat Titans pull off thrilling win in Jaipur

It was going the predictable way. Spin was pinned as the slayer, and rightly so at a ground where sixes are more difficult to hit because of the pitch's uneven bounce. Rashid Khan had already shown the way with a trademark 1/18 in the first innings. So subbing in Keshav Maharaj for Yashasvi Jaiswal to bolster an already heavy spin attack was probably the right way to go about defending 196. The wind picked up though. Enter our protagonist Kuldeep Sen, playing his first IPL game this season.

Gujarat Titans' Rashid Khan, left, and teammate Noor Ahmad celebrate their team's victory during the Indian Premier League cricket match against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur.(AP)
Gujarat Titans' Rashid Khan, left, and teammate Noor Ahmad celebrate their team's victory during the Indian Premier League cricket match against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur.(AP)

Sen bowls seriously fast. But not many walk that talk with the very first ball of his season. Breezing in, hurling a 144.3 kph ball, Sen however set off a chain of events that brought an early close to an already doomed chase of Gujarat Titans. Next ball, full and on the stumps, Sen was asking to be played straight. But B Sai Sudharsan inexplicably shaped up for the lap shot, probably not factoring in Sen’s pace. Sudharsan missed, Sen pinned him leg before.

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It’s one of those days the elements started favouring Sen too. A few sheets of drizzle didn’t soak the outfield for a delay but tightened the chokehold on Gujarat Titans in the form of a soaring required run rate. Back from the dugout, Matthew Wade was confronted with a 146.3kph length ball, this time angled across him. Wade went hard at it with the cut, but without leaning back, resulting in a thick inside edge that deflected back to clatter into his stumps.

Welcome Abhinav Manohar. Sen was building into a nice rhythm by now, effortlessly generating the kind of disconcerting pace that you want to possess as bowling captain. This was slightly slower, at 144.9 kph but the seam-up ball shaping away was just the kind you dread early into your innings. It squared up Manohar and flattened his off-stump, sending Sen and the Jaipur crowd into delirium. Three wickets in nine balls is just the sort of impact Sen would have dreamt of having, especially when Gujarat Titans were struggling to build a base for their chase.

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The target was still pretty steep, despite a resilient 72 from Shubman Gill but Rahul Tewatia kept Titans in the game. Sen again returned in the penultimate over with Gujarat needing 35 from 12. First ball was a yorker that Khan dug out for a single. Second ball, a wide. Tewatia hammered the next ball for four but Sen bounced back with another back of the length ball. Four off a no-ball and a wide made the equation worse but catastrophic was the boundary Tewatia hit off the last ball, leaving Titans 15 to win from the last five balls. Khan got a boundary, an outside edge that evaded Samson’s outstretched hand before carting Avesh Khan over backward point off the last ball for a thrilling three-wicket victory.

The match was thought to be conceded in the first innings when Titans were dropping catches left, right and centre. One reprieve can be put down to the ball probably not sticking to the hand. But two reprieves is just the kind of luck Riyan Parag needed to pile up a 48-ball 76, stitching a 130-run third-wicket stand with Sanju Samson, who remained unbeaten on a 38-ball 68 in his 50th match as captain.

Khan still tried, removing Jos Buttler with a full, outside the off stump ball asking to be hit but actually putting on so many revs on that delivery that even if Buttler went after it, all he could manage was a thick edge. Parked at first slip, Tewatia snaffled up a sharp catch. But Parag didn’t let the momentum drop as he nailed five sixes in a ferocious assault that left Titans completely clueless despite Khan giving a handsome account of himself.

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