PUNE: From being written off after the auction to top the round-robin stage, Gujarat Titans made a debut to remember as they won the Indian Premier League 2022 title beating Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets – with 11 balls remaining.
At the majestic Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Hardik Pandya got all the adulation of his fellow Gujarati brethren as Titans once again thrived in their collective might to shut the individual brilliance of Royals to win the title on their debut season.
Chasing 130 to win the match, Titans lost two early wickets for 23 runs. But highly-rated Shubman Gill (45*, 43b, 3×4, 1×6) once again showcased why he is rated so highly. The youngster added 53 runs with Pandya (34, 30b, 3×4, 1×6) before seeing his team to the podium with a 47-run unbeaten stand for the fourth wicket with David Miller (32*, 19b, 3×4, 1×6).
Earlier, after winning the toss and opting to bat first, Rajasthan got off to a brisk start and raced to 31 in 4 overs. The left-hander Yashasvi Jaiswal smoked two sixes – a lofted drive over cover off Mohammad Shami and a pull-off Yash Dayal – but was caught soon after at deep square leg as he tried to smack the ball out of the ground in vain.
Captain Sanju Samson played a couple of delightful shots, including a back-foot punch off leg-spinner Rashid Khan, but once again failed to translate a promising start into a big score. He attempted to hoick Titans skipper Pandya but the top edge was neatly caught by Sai Kishore at the point.
Hardik, whose fitness was a matter of concern before the tournament started, bowled with nagging control and in the 13th over grabbed the important wicket of Jos Buttler as well.
Buttler, who has scored four tons in this season of the IPL, was the only Rajasthan batsman who batted sensibly and scored 39. He reeled off a few scorching boundaries but didn’t get assistance from other batters.
In his next over, Pandya dismissed left-hander Shimron Hetmyer to leave Rajasthan reeling at 94-5. Overall, he chalked up three wickets for just 17 runs in 4 overs. Throughout the tournament, not only has he exhibited creditable tactical nous but has made vital contributions with both bat and ball.
Rajasthan could not recover after Buttler’s wicket and were ultimately restricted to just 130-9 in 20 overs.
However, their bowlers scripted a comeback as Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna smothered Gujarat batsmen in the Powerplay. Wriddhiman Saha was bowled neck-and-crop by a stunning nip-backer by Krishna in the 2nd over, while left-hander Matthew Wade chipped Boult’s ball straight to mid-wicket in the 5th over.
Gujarat would have been in more trouble but Yuzvendra Chahal gave a reprieve to Gill as he dropped a sitter in the first over of Boult.
Pandya and Gill were watchful after a couple of wickets fell early and focused on rebuilding the innings rather than running amok. While Pandya fell with the team still 44-run short, Miller ensured one last hurrah for the season as Titans scripted a memorable day.
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