Hardik Pandya led from the front with figures of 3/17 with the ball before scoring 34 off 30 balls to ensure Gujarat Titans finish their maiden season in the IPL as Champions with a 7-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals.
Hardik Pandya showed there’s nothing he can’t do on the cricket field as the ‘local-lad’ led brilliantly, bowled a lethal spell and delivered a solid performance with the bat to guide Gujarat Titans (GT) to a 7-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the Finals of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 season at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad on Sunday, May 19.
The win wraps up a memorable campaign for the IPL debutants who finished the league stage at the top of the IPL 2022 Points Table and then maintained an immaculate record in the Playoff stage to lift the trophy in front of their adoring home crowd.
Hardik (3/17) and Rashid Khan (1/18) were the stars with the ball as Gujarat bowled superbly to restrict RR to a below-par total of 130/9. Hardik even got the prized scalp of the season’s highest-scorer Buttler (863 runs) limiting him to just 39 off 35 balls.
Hardik (34 off 30 balls) then shared an important 63-run partnership with Shubman Gill (45 not-out off 43 balls) to steady GT after a shaky start. That laid the base for David Miller (32 not-out off 19 balls) who walked out and played like a man with places to go to hurry up the inevitable result.
But it was the 22-year-old youngster Gill who put the final nail in the coffin as he sealed the victory with a six to wrap up a memorable season, finishing as GT's second-highest scorer with 483 runs and send the home crowd into rapturous delight.
Gujarat’s run-chase got off to a fortunate start as Boult drew a thick edge from Gill which looped off the thigh pad to Yuzvendra Chahal who put down a dolly at square leg to give the GT opener a second-life when still batting on 0.
However, there was no saving Wriddhiman Saha (5 off 7 balls) as Prasidh Krishna flattened his middle-stump in the 2nd over.
Boult then got Matthew Wade (8 off 10 balls) caught at midwicket after drawing a thick leading edge from the batter to reduce GT to 23/2 in the 5th over.
However, Captain Hardik and Gill then stitched together a gritty 63-run partnership off 53 balls to steady the IPL debutants.
Hardik hit 3 fours and 1 six during an impressive stay but the pair were finally split by Chahal who made amends in his final over. Chahal got a loopy delivery to spin sharply and drew a thick edge from Hardik (34 off 30 balls) which Yashasvi Jaiswal snaffled up at slip.
That wicket though only changed the fate of the Purple Cap, as Chahal (27 wickets) grabbed it back from Wanindu Hasaranga, but in the context of the match it was too little too late.
Miller walked out and together with Gill smashed 47 runs off the next 29 balls to ensure the IPL debutants finish their maiden season as Champions.
Earlier at the Toss, Sanju Samson opted to bat as Rajasthan named an unchanged side. Gujarat made one alteration to the Playing XI that beat RR in Qualifier 1, with Lockie Ferguson replacing Alzarri Joseph.
Rajasthan got off to a slow start until Jaiswal tried to up the ante in the 3rd over with a four and six against Mohammed Shami. However, his blitz was short-lived as Yash Dayal cramped Jaiswal (22 off 16 balls) for room in the 4th over with the RR opener finding deep midwicket.
Samson got off the mark with a boundary against Ferguson in the 5th over and followed it up with another boundary against Rashid Khan in the 6th over as Rajasthan posted 44/1 in the powerplay.
However, the game was turned on its head when GT captain Hardik entered the attack in the 9th over. Hardik got his opposite number Samson (14 off 11 balls) caught out while giving away just 1 run in the over.
He then gave away just 4 runs in the 11th over but more importantly built pressure on Devdutt Padikkal who failed to get off the mark despite facing 7 balls. The next decision was key as Hardik changed his mind at the last moment and got Rashid in to bowl the 12th over.
Rashid responded to his captain as he got Padikkal (2 off 10 balls) caught at backward point. Hardik then dealt the killer blow himself as he got Jos Buttler (39 off 35 balls) caught behind on the first ball of the 13th over to leave RR reeling at 79/4.
Hardik wasn’t done yet as he wrapped up a golden spell when he took a sharp return catch to get rid of Shimron Hetmyer (11 off 12 balls) on the final delivery of the 15th over to finish with stunning figures of 4-0-17-3.
Sai Kishore then entered the attack to bowl the 16th over and got Ravichandran Ashwin 6) caught out in his first over. Kishore then doubled his tally as he got Trent Boult (11 off 7 balls) caught at long-off to leave RR with just 120/7 at the end of the 18th over.
Rajasthan failed to mount a late charge as Yash Dayal (1/18) gave away just 3 runs in the penultimate over.
Shami (1/33) then played a role in getting Obed McCoy (8) Run Out in the last over before sending Riyal Parag’s (15 off 15 balls) off-stump flying with a searing yorker on the final delivery to leave RR with a below-average total of just 130/9.
First Published: IST