No one gave them a chance but the Gujarat Titans backtracked on all pre-tournament predictions by winning the Indian Premier League title in the first season of their dreams after a seven-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in the final here on Sunday. Surprised everyone Led by captain Hardik Pandya (3/17), Gujarat’s advanced bowling attack limited a strong batting unit of Rajasthan Royals to 130 for nine after losing the toss. Shabman Gul and David Miller remained unbeaten on 45 and 32 runs respectively, completing a great victory for their team.
It should have been a comfortable pursuit but Rajasthan turned their hearts out to make it an exciting final. As he showed throughout the season, Gujarat remained calm in difficult conditions to complete the chase in 18.1 overs.
Many did not give Gujarat a chance in their first season, especially after the mixed auction, where they waited till the end to get the services of wicketkeepers Veredhiman Saha and Matthew Wade.
It was not a team full of star players but Hardik impressed with his leadership and took full advantage of his teammates.
His performances with the bat and the ball, along with the ability of Miller and Rahul Teutia to bounce back from any situation, also played a vital role in the team’s victory.
After posting a great total, Rajasthan had to make a special effort with the ball to get back in the game.
The quick pairing of Trent Bolt and Prasad Krishna was superb in the power play, which reduced Gujarat to 31 for two and Redhiman Saha (5) and Matthew Wade (8) returned to the dugout.
Krishna got one to come back from a good length to break Saha’s defense and hit the stumps.
Bolt, who also had a maiden over in his clean spell, removed Wade. If Yuzwinder Chahal had caught a simple catch of Bolt’s ball in the first over of the innings, Gujarat would have been three down in the power play.
Hardik and Gul struggled to find the boundary but never felt too much pressure as the questioning rate remained too much under control.
R Ashwin was introduced in the 12th over and Hardik (34 for 30) decided to go after him, combining a four and a six off consecutive balls to form a 50-run partnership with Gill and Gujarat in 12 overs. 77 for two.
Captain Chahal’s brilliant leg fell on the brakes but in the end Gul and Miller worked. The entire stadium, with more than a million people in attendance, resounded when Gill hit the winning six.
Earlier, Hardik (3/17) hit three times in his four overs while Rashid Khan (1/18) once again took his team to the big stage and led their team to the title in their first season.
Rajasthan did not have a good start when captain Sanju Samson decided to score on the board in a big final.
The Gujarat bowlers managed to keep up the pressure on the opposition, though Jose Butler (39 out of 35) and Yashaswi Jaiswal (22 out of 16) did their best to be free.
Jaiswal, who seemed tempting against Mohammad Shami’s speed and swing, took more chances than Butler at the start of the innings.
Among the shots that Jaiswal tried to make, his surest stroke was a beautiful six on the Syrian overcover. After hitting Yash Dayal hard on the long leg, South Pow tried hard and got caught in the deep. The extra bounce affected the mast.
Butler, who started his innings with a crisp square cut, joined in with Samson (14 off 11 balls).
Knowing that both the right-handers of Rajasthan are struggling against Rashid Khan, Hardik attacked the star spinner in the power play.
Both Butler and Samson chose to play safe against Rashid as Rajasthan reached 44 for one in the power play.
On the farm, Butler decided to raise the issue as he pushed Lucky Ferguson over the cover fielder before cutting consecutive boundaries.
The New Zealand player was creating serious speed and he ran the fastest ball of the tournament at a speed of 157.3 km per hour.
Samson did not last long as his opponent, Hardik, removed him on his second ball of the game. Hardik hit hard length and Samson went for the pull shot and was caught only off side, leaving Rajasthan at 60 for two in 8.2 overs.
Rajasthan’s struggles were exacerbated when Dev Dutt Paddick (2), who bowled eight balls, and Butler left with three balls to spare.
After Rajasthan were run out on a single ball after 14 overs, a big hit was needed.
However, Hardik caught the dangerous Shimron Heitmeyer and bowled and scored 94 for five.
Ashwin was killed in the next over, all hopes of Rajasthan’s return were dashed.
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