After registering a seven-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens on Saturday took them to the top of the IPL 2023 points table, skipper Hardik Pandya credited spinner Noor Ahmad and pacer Joshua Little for bringing the team back in the match.

Little broke the back of Kolkata's innings by taking out Venkatesh Iyer and skipper Nitish Rana in the 11th over, impressing with his cutters. On the other hand, Noor took out Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Rinku Singh in his last two overs while keeping the pressure on Kolkata, who made 179/7.

"They got us back in the game and they kept us in the hunt. The way Gurbaz batted -- he was hitting good balls with some conviction and clarity. The way they (Noor and Little) bowled was great. I would have taken 180 on that wicket any given day," said Hardik in the post-match presentation ceremony.

In reply, at 98/3 in 12 overs, after Shubman Gill fell for 49, chasing 180 seemed far-fetched for Gujarat. But Vijay Shankar stepped up at the right time to overcome a scare in the middle overs and smash a blazing 51 off just 24 balls while sharing an 87-run partnership with David Miller to complete the chase with 13 balls to spare.

"He is a fitter Vijay Shankar, more confident and the amount of hard work he has put in is terrific. His hits changed the game and moving forward, we can expect more of the same. I always felt that good people get to good places and he is certainly one of those," added Hardik.

He also said the desire to win games is helping Gujarat be in good nick in IPL 2023. "In a group, we know that to win the game, irrespective of the situation, we have to play good cricket. That humbleness is helping us win games of cricket. They are respecting the situation; we want to face it and it is just about playing good cricket and being smart."

Little, the first player from Ireland to play in the IPL, was adjudged Player of the Match for his 2-25 in four overs. He attributed his good performance to hitting back of the length consistently at the Eden Gardens pitch.

"I just spoke to Hardik before the game and we talked about keeping it as simple as possible - hitting the hard lengths, and happy that I could do it today. It was just about smashing back of a length and letting the ball do the talking. The first game of the season was always going to be nervous. I have settled in nicely now."

Gujarat's next game in IPL 2023 is at their home ground Narendra Modi Stadium against Delhi Capitals on Tuesday.

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