Gujarat Titans skipper Hardik Pandya took full responsibility for his side’s unexpected five-run defeat to Delhi Capitals on Tuesday (May 2) in Ahmedabad. Chasing an under-par total of 130, the Titans’ chase was anchored by Hardik who was unusually sedate in his half-century knock and was unable to put the finishing touches as he had expected to.
“I tried my best but could not capitalise. It boils down to me,” Hardik said at the post-match presentation. “Obviously, we would have taken 129 [131-run target] on any given day. [We] just lost a couple of wickets and at the end, Rahul got us back in the game.”
Unlike their usual chasing trend, Gujarat were rocked early in their innings, losing four wickets inside the seven-over mark, including the pivotal ones of Shubman Gill and David Miller. It meant that Hardik, alongside young Abhinav Manohar had to soak in the pressure with a partnership that was more about stabilising the innings than motoring along.
Hardik’s pacing of his innings was similar to the tempo he had during the afternoon game against Lucknow Super Giants, except that he was able to hit a few maximums at the backend in that game – something that he wasn’t able to manage this time around. In fact, the all-rounder couldn’t find the fence in the last 13 balls of his innings at a phase when the asking rate had shot up drastically.
“We were hoping to get a couple of big overs in the middle but at that point of time we could not get rhythm,” he said. “It was new for Abhinav as well. It boils down to how I was not able to finish the game. Full marks to their bowlers as well and full ownership on my side where I could not finish the game I should’ve.”
Prior to this game, the matches in Ahmedabad had produced reasonably high-scoring games that were also chased down successfully. Batters generally enjoyed striking the ball and there were also a lot of boundaries hit in those games. They were a stark contrast to this fixture that saw just nine sixes across the two innings. Hardik, though, didn’t feel the surface was all that tricky to bat on.
“It was more about the pressure of [losing] wickets,” he said. “I don’t think the [track] played much role. It was a tad slower than what we are used to here. But they bowled really well. We lost a couple of early wickets and then we had to take some time. We could not get the rhythm in the middle. Rahul brought us back into the game. Otherwise, they were quite ahead.”
Since Miller’s exit in the seventh over, only one boundary (a six) was hit until the 14th over and it’s during this phase that the DC bowlers tightened the screws. Titans’ mantra while chasing has always been to take the game deep, relying on the power game of their finishers to get them across the line. Statistically, it had been a largely proven method, except that it didn’t work in this contest.
“Intent had to be there. It’s just that we lost a couple of wickets where if you keep losing wickets, it’s difficult to keep the intent as well. We lost because I could not get my rhythm and we kept losing wickets at the start and that put us under pressure. We like to take it deep and hope to get a couple of big overs which we could not get.”
The game had been set up nicely for the Titans by their bowlers, led by an impeccable spell from Mohammed Shami. The senior pacer bowled an unchanged new-ball spell that saw him pick up four scalps through accurate lines and sharp seam movement. Hardik was all praise for his pace spearhead and regretted his side’s inability to capitalise on the excellent bowling effort.
“I feel sorry for [Shami],” Hardik said. “If you bowl like that, then you restrict the team to 129 , I think [our] batters disappointed. I don’t think the ball did a lot. It’s just that Mohammed Shami’s skillset he has and he made the ball talk. Otherwise, I think for fast bowlers, the wicket did not have much assistance. But the way he bowled four on the trot and got us in the game, full credit [to him].
“As I said, batters and particularly myself did not finish and we disappointed him.”
The defeat was Gujarat’s first of the season in a run chase and only the second time overall from 14 games. The defending champions next go to Jaipur to take on the Rajasthan Royals on Friday (May 5).