Gujarat Titans stay top of IPL after Hardik knock proves crucial

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Gujarat Titans consolidated their lead at the top of the Indian Premier League standings by seeing off Kolkata Knight Riders, recovering from a poor display with the bat to record an eight-run victory.

Despite Hardik Pandya (67) racking up another half-century for the leaders, Andre Russell's (4-5) superb late display wrecked the Titans' bottom-order to limit them to just 156-9.

However, Kolkata's attempts to chase down that seemingly achievable target were left in disarray after early exits for Sam Billings (4), Sunil Narine (5), and Nitish Rana (2).

Russell (48) fell just short of a half-century with the bat as he attempted to single-handedly drive his side to victory, but Lockie Ferguson's excellent catch sent him packing in the 19th over and sealed a hard-earned victory for the Titans.

Titans skipper Hardik elected to bat after winning the toss, going on to hit 67 in another outstanding knock as his side targeted a third consecutive IPL win.

Shubman Gill was removed for just seven runs early on, but Hardik's excellent showing led the Titans to 83 before Wriddhiman Saha (25) was dismissed by Umesh Yadav.

David Miller (27) supported Hardik well, but after the duo were caught in the 16th and 17th innings respectively, the wickets fell in rapid fashion as Russell took charge.

He dismissed Rahul Tewatia (17), Abhinav Manohar (2), Ferguson (0) and Yash Dayal (nought) to bag four wickets in a remarkable final over, but a nightmare start to the Knight Riders' own innings saw their hopes of a first win in four IPL matches dissipate.

Billings, Narine and Rana all fell for single figures as the Knight Riders toiled to 16-3, although Rinku Singh's knock of 35 then dragged them back into the contest.

The outstanding Russell then hit 48 off 25 balls to set up tense finale, but was caught by Ferguson two balls into the final over as the Knight Riders fell to a demoralising fourth consecutive loss.

Russell runs riot with the ball, and goes close with the bat

Russell was incredibly unlucky to finish on the losing side, registering a terrific performance with the ball and then almost dragging his team-mates to victory after taking up the bat, only to be felled just two runs short of his half-century.

Hardik show proves vital

Hardik's 67 looked to be in vain for much of the contest, but the skipper's performance eventually proved crucial, accounting for over a third of his team's score before the Kolkata top-order collapsed.

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