The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 started with a thrilling encounter between the defending champions Gujarat Titans and the Chennai Super Kings that saw the Titans eke out a victory in the final over of the innings.
Despite chasing a stiff target of 178, the Titans appeared in control throughout the pursuit and won comfortably in the end with five wickets and four balls to spare.
However, the victory came at a cost with the injury to New Zealand star Kane Williamson that occurred in the 13th over of CSK's innings. Williamson was stationed at the deep mid-wicket boundary and tried to take a catch off a pick-up shot by Ruturaj Gaikward. Kane fell awkwardly in the process and held his knee to the ground in agony for a few minutes.
The 32-year-old was eventually carried off the ground and did not return to play any further part in the game.
According to the latest reports, the Kiwi limited-overs skipper has been ruled out of the entire IPL season due to the knee injury. This will be a severe blow to the Gujarat Titans, as the franchise bought Williamson in the mini-auction late last year to bring solidity to their top order for this year's IPL.
The Titans will now look at other options to rope in as Kane Williamson's replacement for the remainder of the IPL.
"My shot and Shubman's put the team in a difficult position" - Hardik Pandya
The defending champions Gujarat Titans kicked off their IPL season by winning their opening encounter against the Chennai Super Kings in Ahmedabad. The Titans were coasting at 111/2 in 12 overs, requiring just 68 runs off eight overs with the pedigreed duo of Shumban Gill and Hardik Pandya at the crease.
However, both Pandya and Gill perished to poor shots that meant the lower middle-order had to bail the team out of trouble and ensure victory. Despite praising their efforts, Hardik admitted that he and Shubman Gill were to blame for the match going down to the wire.
Speaking at the post-match presentation, the Gujarat Titans Skipper said:
"I am obviously very happy, but we did put ourselves in a difficult position. My shot and Shubman's shot put the team in a difficult position. We have some standards inside the dressing room. We have to finish the games, and not Rash and Rahul all the time."
He also expressed the difficulty of the Impact Player rule for a captain by saying:
"Having the impact rule makes my job very difficult. There are too many options. Because of it, someone will always bowl less or late."
The Titans will travel to Delhi to take on the Delhi Capitals in their second game on April 4, while the Super Kings will play the Lucknow Super Giants at home on April 3.
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