Wade struggles on return as Rashid shines in IPL

Australia's white-ball veteran Matthew Wade has suffered a disappointing return to action but was exultant at being an IPL winner again -- thanks to his masterly Gujarat Titans' teammate Rashid Khan.

Afghan maestro Rashid, back working his wonders with bat and ball in the manner all Adelaide Strikers' fans have come to know and love, proved the Titans' hero once again with his brilliant all-round display that downed the previously unbeaten Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Thursday (AEST).

After taking a wicket while giving up a miserly 18 runs off his four overs in Rajasthan's formidable 3-196, Rashid then cracked an unbeaten 24 off just 11 balls, completing the unlikely chase with a boundary slashed over point off the very last ball to earn the visitors a last-gasp, three-wicket win.

It was a glorious return to form for the beaming 25-year-old who missed the BBL season because of back surgery and admitted to have been a little out of sorts with his legspinning wiles since his return.

"I've been struggling a bit with my bowling and was happy to hit the right areas again today," Rashid said.

"That made me happier and gave me energy in my batting. It's really hard coming back after four months, but it's all good now."

Yet it might have been an even more auspicious and straightforward day for him but for a couple of missed chances off his bowling by 36-year-old Wade, who was back in IPL action for the first time since 2022, brought into the side to replace Kane Williamson.

It started well enough for the Tasmanian, who's never enjoyed the same sort of success in the IPL that he's enjoyed for Australia, as he leapt like a salmon to take a brilliant catch above his head when Yashasvi Jaiswal gloved an attempted scoop off Umesh Yadav.

But Wade then spilled fine edges - twice - off Rashid's bowling to give Riyan Parag reprieves, on nought and six. 

They were expensive mistakes as Parag cashed in to hammer 76 off 48 balls, including five sixes, while Rajasthan's captain Sanju Samson also leathered an unbeaten 68 from 38.

Kuldeep Sen.
Matthew Wade getting cleaned up for just four by Rajasthan's paceman Kuldeep Sen.

Samson took a particular liking to Spencer Johnson's bowling, ruining his early impressive start by going after the Australian in his third over, which got caned for 16. Otherwise, the Adelaide paceman did pretty well, conceding 37 in all in his four wicketless overs.

Wade's chance to redeem himself with the bat flopped when the left-hander tried an extravagant drive off quick Kuldeep Sen (3-41), got a big inside edge and was bowled for just four.

When captain Shubman Gill's lone hand came to end for 72 and Rashid soon appeared at No.8 with 40 still needed off just 15 balls, it looked a hopeless task.

Despite sharing a defiant big-hitting partnership with Rahul Tewatia, Rashid still needed 15 off the last over bowled by Avesh Khan, but hit 11 off the first four to give them a great chance.

Tewatia hit a couple more, sacrificing his wicket in a run-out when going for a third run to get Rashid on strike for the last ball, and, naturally, the wizard didn't disappoint as a poor short ball from Avesh got what it deserved.

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