IPL 2024: GT adapted to conditions very well, says Balaji on their death-over bowling masterclass v MI

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IPL 2024: GT adapted to conditions very well, says Balaji on their death-over bowling masterclass v MI

New Delhi:  With Mumbai Indians needing 42 off the last six overs with seven wickets in hand, Gujarat Titans put up a death-overs bowling masterclass to register a six-run win in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 on Sunday evening, and former India fast-bowler Lakshmipathy Balaji lauded the side’s bowlers for adapting well to the conditions which weren’t in their favour.

At the Narendra Modi Stadium, there was heavy dew when GT came out to defend 168 against MI, which meant the bowlers faced challenges in gripping the ball. But with R. Sai Kishore trapping Rohit Sharma lbw, Rashid Khan conceding only three runs in the 17th over and Mohit Sharma taking out Dewald Brevis and Tim David put the pressure back on Mumbai Indians.

With 36 runs needed from the last three overs, Spencer Johnson took out Tilak Varma and Gerald Coetzee, before Hardik Pandya fell in the final over to Umesh Yadav as GT got their IPL 2024 campaign off to a winning start.

“What they did in Sunday’s game against MI impressed me a lot because before the tournament, they had a setback as Shami was not available for this season and they had to make the entry for a newcomer. Omarzai has fitted in very well with his seam position in the conditions, where he was a little bit helpful with the new ball.”

“Though Spencer Johnson went for runs in the first few overs, he came back to bowl that phenomenal over in the end. Bowling attacks become very important when it comes to the IPL this season, as bowlers are winning matches for their teams. This trend will continue and GT adapted to the conditions very well, where it is not easy to bowl in that situation.”

“Rashid Khan phenomenally managed with his experience and (I) was very impressed with Sai Kishore, who got out Rohit Sharma with an outstanding delivery, which was the turning point for me. From there, Mohit Sharma came in and did his tricks, but most importantly, they adapted to the conditions really well.”

“They didn’t bowl a yorker in the back end of the overs; they just bowled short to ensure the batters go after the bowling with horizontal shots and that was very phenomenal to watch,” said Balaji while replying to an IANS query in the ‘Star Sports Press Room’ virtual interaction on Monday.

Sunday’s match also marked Afghanistan seam-bowling all-rounder Azmatullah Omarzai’s IPL debut, and he did his part by making 17 with the bat and took 2-27, hinting that he is being tipped to fill in the gap at GT left by Hardik’s move to MI, felt former Sunrisers Hyderabad head coach Tom Moody.

“There’s no doubt that Omarzai had a really good start to his campaign. It’s interesting that the Gujarat Titans were looking to get him to fill that Hardik Pandya role. I probably believe batting at number four is a bit of two slots higher for him – he’s sort of an impact player at the back end of the order.”

“For him to take the new ball ahead of Spencer Johnson also surprised me. Spencer Johnson is a specialist new-ball bowler, so to delay his deployment into the bowling attack – around tenth or eleventh over – was a surprise to me.”

GT’s next match will be against defending champions Chennai Super Kings at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday and Balaji, CSK’s former bowling coach, thinks it will be a good headache for them to fit in Matheesha Pathirana, especially after Mustafizur Rahman shone with a four-fer in the tournament opener win over Royal Challengers Bengaluru.

“Obviously, for a new entrant like Mustafizur to perform on the very first game was phenomenal. But what Pathirana did was he provided the cushion CSK wanted for a long time especially after Bravo, because he used to provide that cushion during the death overs to CSK.”

“Pathirana straightaway got fit into that role and it probably depends on how well new ball bowlers bowl according to that. Probably Pathirana might have to wait because Mustafizur can bowl in the death and the start as well. So probably in that aspect, I feel it’s a good headache to have when you have a fit Pathirana into the side and apart from that yes Shardul Thakur has done phenomenally well in the last 3-4 matches in the domestic season.”

“He has got runs and at the same time, he’s been bowling phenomenally it’s very difficult to choose. I think it’s the captain who has to have the trust and also kind of comfort with the bowler’s perspective, so Ruturaj will have to get some understanding and time. We have seen what MS Dhoni did with Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur and Pathirana.”

“Now it’s a time where Ruturaj (Gaikwad) has to step in and take the advice and go with the gut feeling he has. Whatever happened in the first game helped them to win the game they will not mix and match and will continue the same,” he concluded.

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