Dubai: Hardik Pandya guided Indian Premier League debutants Gujarat Titans to a historic victory after defeating Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
The Gujarat skipper was pivotal in his team’s fortunes and the all-rounder did not disappoint his team on the big stage by getting his fielding right and letting his bowlers bowl at the right areas, not giving Rajasthan batters any chance to free their arms.
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After spinning the noose around their necks, Pandya turned up to break the backbone of Rajasthan batting by dismissing Jos Buttler, who has scored runs in tons this season, skipper Sanju Samson and then the dangerous Shimron Hetmyer to deliver the knockout punch.
No real partnership
Pandya was well supported by Rashid Khan and Mohammed Shami, who all ensured there is no real partnership that could set the base for a big total.
Despite not scoring a challenging total, Rajasthan bowlers were determined not to give in without a fight and Prasidh Krishna and Trent Boult silenced the record crowd, 132,000 spectators – the most attended in a cricket match.
But Pandya once again added priceless 63-run partnership with opener Shubman Gill, who lived dangerously after he was dropped at zero by Yuzvendra Chahal off the second ball, to bring the fans back on their feat.
Pandya’s resolute knock came to an end by a brilliant ball by Chahal that spun and bounced to take the edge and land in the first slip, but by then the platform was set and David Miller gave the finishing touches to give the debutants historic title. Gill remained unbeaten on 45 while Miller was 32 not out.
It’s the first time that a debutants have clinched the IPL title, seventh overall in 15 seasons, and the second in front of the home crowd. A superlative effort by Gujarat Titans.
How it happened
Gujarat win maiden IPL title
Gill and Miller guide Gujarat Titans a seven-wicket win with 11 balls to spare for their maiden title. Gill was unbeaten on 45 while Miller 32 not out.
Ashwin leaking runs as Gujarat move closer to target
One hurdle crossed for Gujarat, reaching the 100-run mark with just three wickets back in the pavilion. But Rajasthan are looking down the barrel with Ashwin proving expensive in his two overs. The off-spinner is neither able to stop the run flow nor get a wicket and has 27 runs in his two overs. Gujarat now need 22 runs in 24 balls with seven wickets in hand. Remember the previous game, Miller hit Krishna for 18 in three balls and the left-hander is batting on 17 from 11.
Chahal’s beauty dismisses Pandya, a wee bit late
Chahal has given Rajasthan Royals a slim hope by dismissing the Gujarat skipper Pandya, breaking the 63-run third wicket partnership in his last over. Though it could bring cheer among the Rajasthan ranks, but it is not enough as the leg-spinner, who made the title-winning legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne proud with the ball that dismissed Pandya, has completed his four-over spell and so is Boult. Gujarat are 89/3 as Ashwin, McCoy and Krishna have to bowl the rest of the remaining six overs.
Will Samson’s gamble pay off?
Gill and Pandya have put on a 40-run partnership to steady their chase. And now comes the make or break moment for Rajasthan. Samson has been keeping his trumpcard Ashwin close to his chest and now unleashed in the final 9 overs, which means the spinner will bowl the four overs of the nine. A dangerous game. After 11 overs, Gujarat are 62/2.
Gill living dangerously
The pressure is mounting on Gill to keep the scoreboard ticking and the result is that he has been living dangerously, Nevertheless, with Pandya at the other end, he could take those chances and as the Titans move closer to the target, the Royals bowlers will be under more pressure. Samson has been using most of his main bowlers until now and the next eight overs will be between Ashwin and McCoy, which could be the turning point as Ashwin has been leaking runs of late. After 9 overs, Gujarat are 48/2.
Gujarat batters cutting down the risks
Pandya and Gill are ensuring that they are playing the ball on the ground, cutting down the risks, while rotating the strike in singles with the odd boundary. They could afford to do that as the target is not daunting and still the required run rate is around 7.5 runs an over, a highly achievable task if wickets are on hand. After 7 overs, Gujarat are 35/2.
Boult strikes, but Pandya arrives at the big stage
Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna have kept probing the right areas to keep the Gujarat batters in check, though Krishna could be guilty of spraying the ball around. Still with two wickets down at 25 after 5 overs, Rajasthan pacers are bringing their team back into the game. Pandya, who has not put a foot wrong on the big stage, will now be anchoring the chase. And the Gujarat captain is doing the right thing by playing out the New Zealander, who now has bowled three overs.
Chahal, did you drop the cup?
For the first time in the match, Rajasthan showed that they are not giving up without a fight. Truly, they will have to back their bowlers, especially when defending a low score. The perfect field set by Boult resulted in Gill giving a simple catch to Chahal, who floored it when the Gujarat opener was on nought. After Prasidh Krishna got rid of Saha, Royals should have had their tails up if Chahal had held onto the catch in the first over. After two overs, Gujarat are 11/1.
Good start is the key for Gujarat
I might be a paltry target, the low-scoring finals have always been tricky. It requires a good start for Gujarat Titans and the key is not losing early wickets. Trent Bolt will be throwing the kitchen sink in his first spell, generally three overs at the start of the innings. The onus is now on Wriddhiman Saha and Shubman Gill to ensure that there are no early alarms.
Rajasthan skipper Sanju Samson won the toss and nothing went right for him, on the other hand everything went right for his counterpart as Gujarat Titans restricted the Royals to a paltry 130/9 in the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Right from the first ball, Gujarat have hit the right areas to not allow the Rajasthan batters any freedom, including the dangerous Jos Buttler, who has 863 runs to his credit this season at an average strikerate of 149. But in the final, the Orange Cap holder made 39 off 35 balls, a proof that Gujarat didn’t concede anything to their rivals.
The opening partnership between Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal was the best, which came in with plenty of risks. The exit of skipper Samson triggered a huge slide from which the Royals never got back from.
Breaking the backbone
One of the main reasons for the slide is Pandya, who took the onus upon himself to bowl the crucial middle overs during which he broke the backbone of Rajasthan, dismissing Samson, Buttler and Shimron Hetmyer in his four-over spell giving away 17 runs, while Rashid Khan was at his usual best finishing with 1/18 in his four overs. In those eight overs, Rajasthan could only 35 runs and have lost four wickets.
In between, Lockie Ferguson, who replaced Alzarri Joseph, clocked the fastest ball in the IPL with the ball touching 157.3kmph.
Riyan Parag’s late heroics, run a ball 15, took Rajasthan past the 130-run mark, but Mohammed Shami, who started with a brilliant spell, showed that he can’t be left behind by bowling two brilliant Yorkers to finish on a high.
The wicket is not a perfect batting pitch, giving enough assistance to the bowlers, both pacers and spinners alike. But the total is even too little for the famed Rajasthan bowlers to check the progress of Gujarat Titans. It is Gujarat’s game to lose now.
Rajasthan keep floundering at every stage
Pandya’s another masterstroke to bring in spinner in the death overs yielded immediate results with Ashwin taking the bait. The familiarity of facing statemate Sai Kishore must have lit Ashwin’s eyes to target the left-arm spinner, only to sky the ball for Miller to complete the catch at long-on. Rajasthan have finally crossed the 100-run mark in 16.2 overs, no the target they would have wanted at this stage.
Whatever Pandya touches turns into gold
Pandya caps a brilliant spell with the wicket of Hetmyer. The Gujarat captain got rid of Samson off his second ball and then the dangerous Jos Buttler and now the West Indian left-hander, who only this over hit Pandya for two fours. But the all-rounder is on fire with a spell of 3-17 in four overs. After 15 overs, Rajasthan are 94/5.
Runs have dried up for Rajasthan
How many runs Rajasthan could score in the last six overs? From this stage, if the Royals could score 140 it will be a huge boost, but it looks very unlikely. They should be scoring at least 10 runs an over to reach the target and the way Gujarat bowlers are bowling, it will be difficult to break the shackles. One big relief for Rajasthan is Rashid Khan has completed his four overs, after conceding a paltry 18. A brilliant spell. Royals, after 14 overs, are 84/4.
Buttler’s stay ends
It’s all over for Rajasthan. The pressure has caught with the England batter and Pandya getting the big fish with the ball that was not in Buttler’s favourite areas. In trying to run it down for a single at third man, the Orange Cap holder nicks it to Saha. Can’t stop Pandya. The tail has to wag for Royals now.
Another wicket pushes Rajasthan deeper into trouble
Buttler is in a quandary, to attack or not to attack, as runs have dried up from the other side. Padikkal, just like Jaiswal, has succumbed to the stage fright and is not able to find the timing. It took eight balls for the left-hander to score his first run and lasted another couple of balls before he fell to Rashid Khan’s magic. Finally, the struggle comes to an end. Now if Hetmyer also goes early, then big trouble for Rajasthan. After 12 overs Rajasthan are 79/3.
Huge responsibility on Buttler’s shoulders
Buttler Is waging the lone battle and at the halfway mark Rajasthan are 71/2. The lack of boundaries will make it difficult for the England batter to run hard, which could tire him towards the end. But it is important for Royals for Buttler to stay till the end to at least double this score.
Big wicket for Gujarat
Samson has paid the price for his lack of patience by trying to heave Pandya over the fence only for Sai Kishore to complete a difficult, running with the ball coming over the shoulders. Now Buttler will be under tremendous pressure and will have to justify his status as the leading run-getter with the likes of Padikkal and the rest. Pandya has not done anything wrong, including his first over when he got a wicket after giving away only one run. After 9 overs, Royals are 60/2 and Gujarat bowlers are not giving anything away.
Heat building up at Motera
The drama is unfolding befitting the stage. The fastest ball in the IPL, a 157.3kmph yorker to Buttler from Ferguson, a lofted drive just over the leaping hands of Pandya and a perfect lofted shot over point, a couple of close run-out chances add more heat to the final. Rashid Khan once again has his measure of Buttler, bowling in the areas that the Orange Cap holder is not comfortable with and gives away five runs in his second over. After 8 overs, Rajasthan are 59/1.
Samson-Buttler’s partnership key for Rajasthan
When Sanju Samson hit Lockie Ferguson’s 154kmph over mid-on for his first four, not the timing he would have expected and just cleared the fielder, the Rajasthan camp must have had their hearts in their throats. But Ferguson still kept the batters quiet and with his pace and Rashid Khan followed it up with another miserly over, which cost seven runs including a misfielded boundary. After six powerplay overs, Rajasthan are 44/1. A lot will depend on this pair for Rajasthan.
Gujarat get the breakthrough
Jaiswal has been throwing his bat around and after hitting a short ball for a six off Yash Dayal, the left-hander repeated the same shot to pull the ball over the square-leg boundary, only to hit it straight to Sai Kishore. Not the right start Rajasthan would have wanted as Gujarat pacers are keeping a tight hold on the game in the powerplay overs. After 4 overs, Rajasthan are 31/1.
Swing, miss and hit for Jaiswal
The big occasion has get to the young Rajasthan opener Jaiswal. The left-hander has not found his timing and took 8 balls to his first run. But after a couple of wild swing, Jaiswal found the ball in his range, which he dispatched over extra covers for first six and followed it up with a mistimed pull for three. After 3 overs, Rajasthan are 21/0, Buttler is still watchful, while Jaiswal is on the attack.
Shami keeps Rajasthan openers quiet
Shami gave a good start to Gujarat, troubling both Yashasvi Jaiswal and Jos Buttler with his swing, pace and accuracy. After one over, Rajasthan are 1/0.
Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh and Oscar-winning music composer AR Rahman kept the fans entertained before the action begun at the packed stadium in Motera.
Sanju Samson, after winning his second consecutive toss, said: "It is a used wicket, we're playing the second game here and looks dry. Everyone is very positive and excited to play the IPL final in front of this fabulous crowd. Same team."
Gujarat skipper Hardik Padya said: "We would've bowled first [massive cheers in the background]. Very overwhelming to see so many people come and support us. We want to treat this game as normal as possible and take the right decisions. The boys are chilled out, credit to the support staff."
Samson wins toss and elects to bat
Sanju Samson won the toss and elected to bat against Gujarat Titans in the final. Rajasthan have retained the same team while Pandya have brought in Lockie Ferguson for Alzzari Joseph.
Dubai: Gujarat Titans face an intriguing clash in the final of the Indian Premier League Season 15 against Rajasthan Royals at Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday.
The Titans will be playing in front of a number of home fans at the majestic stadium and despite winning twice against Rajasthan this season, the Hardik Pandya-led team face dangers that are two-fold with Rajasthan possessing both the Orange Cap and the Purple Cap holders.
Two potent weapons
The first big worry to contend for Gujarat is Jos Buttler, who could take the match away from them at the start of the match. The England batter, after scoring his fourth century this season, will eager to continue with the same form in the final, but it might not be an easy task on such a big occasion.
On the other hand, Yuzvendra Chahal, the main wicket-taker for Royals, has also been breaking partnerships at crucial stages and the leg-spinner has developed a potent partnership with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
While it is a big advantage for Rajasthan skipper Sanju Samson to have these two potent weapons to unleash at his rivals, it could work also against Royals as the 2007 winners have been riding on the duo’s backs to reach the final. Should they have an off day, then the rest could be in unfamiliar territory and will find the going tough even though Rajasthan possess some quality players.
On the contrary, Gujarat have not been relying on individual brilliance, but on a collective effore. Almost everyone in the playing XI have come up with match-winning performances during the course of the tournament, rescuing the team up from troubled waters. That should give the Titans the edge in the title decider, where the toss could also be a big factor.
Form points to Gujarat Titans creating history and over to Motera where the umpires call play and see a enticing contest that befits the final of 2022, a season which has seen many nail-biters.