The battle of the new Indian Premier League franchises ended with Gujarat Titans securing a thrilling five-wicket win against Lucknow Super Giants in Mumbai on Monday.
Chasing 159 for victory, Gujarat were in trouble at 78-4 but Rahul Tewatia smashed an unbeaten 40 off 24 balls to guide his team home with two balls to spare at Wankhede Stadium.
Mohammed Shami set up the win for Gujarat after he returned figures of 3-25 to restrict Lucknow, led by KL Rahul, to 158-6.
“This was the right game for us to be on either side and learn, but have learnt a lot by winning,” said Gujarat captain Hardik Pandya.
“Shami is known for his seam positions and he got us to a great start. We would have any day taken 160 on this wicket.”
Gujarat, owned by CVC Capital – a US capital venture fund – slipped when Pandya fell for 33 to elder brother Krunal Pandya's left-arm spin.
The wicket ended a 57-run partnership with Matthew Wade, who soon got out for 30.
David Miller, who made 30, and Tewatia – both left-hand batters – put together 60 off 34 balls to swing the momentum back in Gujarat's favour.
“The wicket was so good that Miller and I were discussing that we would take it deep and it's a matter of just one over,” said Tewatia.
“After I hit that six with the reverse sweep, that got [Ravi] Bishnoi thinking.”
Tewatia completed the chase with his fifth four – he also struck two sixes – with partner Abhinav Manohar hitting 15 off seven balls.
Earlier Shami rattled the Lucknow top-order with three early strikes including getting Rahul caught behind for nought on the first ball of the match and bowled Quinton de Kock for seven.
Shubman Gill took a stunning catch while backwards to send back Evin Lewis out for 10 off Varun Aaron before Lucknow hit back with fifties from Deepak Hooda (55) and Ayush Badoni (54).
Super Giants captain Rahul said: “I think it was a phenomenal game. The start wasn't ideal but the way we recovered was phenomenal. We couldn't have started the campaign in a better way.
“The win would have been great but a lot to learn from this. If anyone can exploit the pitch, it's Shami. I have played with him for three, four years in the last franchise and I knew he could be dangerous.”
Both Gujarat and Lucknow, owned by Indian tycoon Sanjiv Goenka's RPSG conglomerate, have added to the Twenty20 spectacle in the world's most valuable cricket tournament that has expanded to 10 teams and 74 matches.
Former champions Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad open their IPL campaign on Tuesday with the first game of the season in Pune – one of the two cities hosting the league matches with limited crowds due to Covid-related restrictions.