Powerful knocks by skipper Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer led Rajasthan Royals to a stunning three-wicket win over holders Gujarat Titans to stay top of the IPL table on Sunday.
Chasing 178 for victory, last year’s runners-up Rajasthan depended on Samson’s 32-ball 60 and an unbeaten 56 by Hetmyer to achieve their target with four balls to spare in Ahmedabad.
Rajasthan were two down for four and then 55-4 when Samson and Hetmyer put together 59 off 27 deliveries to bring alive the chase at the world’s biggest cricket ground.
Samson took on leg-spinner Rashid Khan in an over and smashed a hat-trick of sixes and then took on another Afghanistan spinner before departing.
Noor Ahmad, a left-arm wrist spinner, came in as impact player for Gujarat and after getting smashed for a six and four got Samson caught out.
But the dismissal only fired up the left-handed Hetmyer who kept up the charge as he and Dhruv Jurel, who hit 18, got 20 runs from an Alzarri Joseph over to near the target.
Hetmyer finished off the chase with a six off Ahmad, an IPL debutant who was given the final over by skipper Hardik Pandya.
Mohammed Shami stood out with figures of 3-25 for Gujarat, who won the title last year in their fairytale debut season in the T20 tournament.
Earlier Shubman Gill (45) and David Miller (46) guided Gujarat to 177-7 after being invited to bat first in the second match of the day.
Gill started strongly despite losing partners including Wriddhiman Saha to a dramatic mid-pitch catch by Trent Boult off his own bowling after the ball bounced off Samson’s gloves following a near collision between three fielders.
Gill put on a 59-run stand with Pandya to take the attack to the opposition.
Sandeep Sharma denied Gill his fifty but the left-handed Miller smashed boundaries in his 30-ball knock and got help from the other end with Abhinav Manohar hitting 27 off 13 balls.