Gujarat Titans 198 for 4 (Gill 104*, Shankar 53, Siraj 2-23) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 197 for 5 (Kohli 101*, Noor 2-39) by six wickets
It was hard not to see this as a symbolic passing of the baton in the larger context of the Indian batting kingdom. Gill took eight balls fewer than Kohli to get to the hundred, hit seven more sixes, but Kohli’s circumstance was different. He had wickets falling around him whereas Vijay Shankar – Gill’s partner for the second-wicket stand of 123 – enjoyed much more luck than RCB batters did. In fact, Titans scored 45 runs in false responses, more than any innings in this IPL.
Ink boys get going
Titans own middle overs
There was some luck involved in the first wicket. It was a skilful wrong’un from Noor Ahmad that dipped on du Plessis, but the thick outside edge was never going to be caught except in freakish circumstances. It happened as the ball hit Wriddhiman Saha’s pad and lobbed for an easy catch at slip. At least Titans had the slip in place despite that start.
Poignantly for the RCB fans, the partnership ended at a season aggregate of 939, the same that Kohli and AB de Villiers scored together in 2016.
Kohli manages both
Kohli has batted with much less price on his wicket this IPL, and his natural game has backed his intent. He did more of the same but it still has suffered in the absence of the lower-order hitting. Here he went from 36 off 22 in the first six to 16 off 14 in the next six, but he is a different proposition when he gets into the death overs. Because of the loss of five wickets, he was probably forced to play Rashid out in the 17th but he lived up to his reputation of being one of the best at the death, scoring his second 50 in just 25 balls. He did so with just one six, only the fourth time a hundred with just one six has been scored in the IPL.
The Gill riposte
Kohli has scored two of those hundreds, Shikhar Dhawan one, and Gill one, in his last innings. Here, though, he was in no mood to miss out on the small boundaries off Chinnaswamy Stadium.
The new ball held in the surface, which showed in the struggles of Saha and Shankar, but Gill looked like he was batting in a parallel universe. Short-arm jabs flew for sixes, the cover gap looked bigger than it was, and the slow start of 25 for 1 in three overs soon began to look up.
The only time Gill looked like slogging was when Shankar was 21 off 20. He ran at the legspinner Himanshu Sharma, was beaten in the flight, but got an outside edge for four. He followed it up with a clean six, and never looked back.
Shankar enjoyed much more luck than Gill, and survived long enough for some hits to come off. In what is cruel but true nature of T20, Shankar got to his fifty quicker than Kohli did even though Kohli hardly mis-hit a ball.
The moment the asking rate went past 11, RCB gave the two right-hand batters the offspin of Bracewell, whom Gill deposited for two sixes. When Shankar fell, Titans kept promoting batters other than Hardik Pandya. They struggled, two of them got out, but Gill was unstoppable at the other end even though he got to face only 12 balls in the last six overs. He scored 33 in those to take Titans home with five balls to spare.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo