Gujarat Titans won the Indian Premier League for the first time on Sunday, with to all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s seven-wicket triumph over Rajasthan Royals in the final.
After Sanju Samson won the toss and chose to bat, Pandya took three for 17 with his excellent medium-fast bowling to reduce Rajasthan to 130 for nine. Gujarat reached 133 for three in 18.1 overs in front of a raucous crowd of over 100,000 at the Narendra Modi Stadium, thanks to Pandya’s important 34 off 30 balls.
Shubman Gill, the opening batsman, led the way with an undefeated 45 and secured the victory with a six off Obed McCoy over deep square leg. “This title is going to be a special one because we talked about creating a legacy and the coming generations will talk about it,” said Pandya, who won four IPL titles with Mumbai Indians before switching organisations and being named Gujarat captain this year.
“This is the right example for every team in the world that if you can play as a team, you can do wonders.”
Rajasthan’s pursuit for a second IPL title since winning the first edition in 2008 was thwarted by Pandya’s outstanding bowling in the middle overs, which was aided by Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan.
Jos Buttler, who got 863 runs despite having made only 39 off 35 balls, was the tournament’s top scorer, with 39 off 35 balls, and Samson scored 14. Pandya struck out both batters. Samson attempted to speed up the scoring, but was caught at third base on Pandya’s second ball.
Buttler, who has four century and four half centuries this season, was given a slight edge while attempting to steer a short ball to third man. Gujarat’s captain then ensured Rajasthan’s death overs were devoid of power-hitters.
In the final delivery of a fantastic four-over spell, Pandya had Shimron Hetmyer (11) caught off his own bowling. Rajasthan’s Trent Boult and Yuzvendra Chahal, the season’s leading wicket-taker, bowled brilliantly, but Pandya negotiated the middle overs with Gill, putting on a 63-run stand for the third wicket.
After hitting three boundaries and a six in his innings at No 4, player-of-the-match Pandya remarked, “Batting comes first to me, it’s been always close to my heart.” “When the IPL auction finished, I knew I would have to bat at No 4.”
Chahal finished the competition with 27 wickets when Pandya was caught in the slips in the 14th over. Gujarat, on the other hand, were able to win due to their depth in the middle order batting (the club topped the table with 20 points from 10 wins during the league round). The tournament newcomers were comfortably led to the winning target by David Miller (32 not out) and Gill.
Despite the defeat, Rajasthan’s Samson spotted some positives. “This season is really special for us, we have been able to play good cricket and gave fans some happy moments,” he added, adding that his team had a bad day in the final. “All the youngsters and seniors played well as a team, I am proud of my team. We believe quality bowlers win you the tournament, so we invested in them … but there is a lot to learn.”
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