David Miller (68 off 38*) brought back memories of Carlos Brathwaite in Eden Gardens, Kolkata, as his incredible rescue act against Rajasthan Royals (RR) powered Gujarat Titans (GT) to the final of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022.
In their maiden appearance in the tournament, Gujarat have marched into the final by winning the first qualifier. They needed 16 off the last over, and Miller smashed Prasidh Krishna for three consecutive sixes to finish the game with three balls to spare. Miller shared an unbeaten 106-run stand for the fourth wicket with captain Hardik Pandya (40 off 27*) after the top order set the platform for the chase. Earlier, Rajasthan were powered to a competitive 188/6, courtesy Jos Buttler’s 56-ball 89.
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Rajasthan Royals 188/6 in 20 overs
Sanju Samson’s luck with the coin had its say at the toss. For a record 13th time, he lost the toss and Rajasthan were asked to bat. They lost Yashasvi Jaiswal in the second over. With Buttler starting cautiously, Samson (47 off 26), ignored for his national team this weekend, took on the Gujarat attack, displaying an array of attractive strokes. He fell in the 10th over, trying to hit Sai Kishore for six. At the halfway mark, the Royals were 79/2.
While Buttler remained cautious, especially against Rashid Khan, a bowler he has significantly struggled against in T20s, Devdutt Padikkal bought some time in the middle before plundering 18 off Kishore’s final over, the 14th of the innings.
Buttler waited for Rashid to end his spell before launching an onslaught. From 127/3 in 16 overs, the Royals finished with 188/6, getting 61 from their final four overs. After scoring 39 from the first 38 balls, Buttler butchered 50 off the next 19 balls he faced. He overturned a series of low scores and was aided by poor fielding by Gujarat. The goof-ups in the field, especially by Pandya, who slipped on the rain-wet outfield failed to catch Buttler, cost Gujarat at least 20 extra runs.
In a dramatic final over of the innings, there was a wide, a six that gave Buttler in a chance to slam another ton, two run outs and a no ball that led to a free hit. Buttler fell 11 short of what could have been his fourth hundred in an IPL edition. He could have emulated Virat Kohli, who did the same in 2016. With 718 runs in this edition, he is now the sixth-highest run-getter in an IPL season, behind Kohli (973 in 2016), David Warner (848 in 2016), Kane Williamson (735 in 2018), Chris Gayle (733 in 2012) and Michael Hussey (733 in 2013).
Leaking 130 runs in 12 overs, this is the fourth time in the season that the Gujarat pacers have gone for over nine an over. They had lost on all the previous three occasions.
Gujarat Titans 191/3 in 19.3 overs
Gujarat were pushed to the back foot in the first over of their innings when Wriddhiman Saha was victim to Trent Boult’s habit of striking in the first over. Boult got the ball to nip away from Saha, who had positioned himself to work the ball to the leg-side. The wicket of Saha, who has played most of his cricket for Bengal at Eden Gardens, was a big blow.
Matthew Wade (35 off 30) paired up with Shubman Gill (35 off 21) and kept Gujarat in the chase. Gill plundered R. Ashwin for 17 runs in the sixth over to ensure GT were 64/1 after the Powerplay.
Yuzvendra Chahal was introduced right after the Powerplay, and a four-run over applied some brakes to the scoring. In the eighth over, a horrible mix-up between Wade and Gill saw the latter perish to a run out. With the sort of form he was in, Gill was livid as he walked back. The run out seemed to play on Wade’s mind as he wasn’t the free-flowing self after Gill’s dismissal and fell to Obed McCoy.
Unlike Gujarat, Rajasthan were exceptional on the field and gave very little away.
Captain Pandya continued his good form, assessing the situation and going for a minimum-risk acceleration. The veteran Ashwin went for 40 in his four overs, giving away 17 and 14 in his first and last overs, respectively. From 97/3 after 10 overs, GT came to a position where they required 50 off the final five overs, with seven wickets in hand.
Though Rajasthan failed to pick a wicket till the final over, they gave only 34 runs off the next four overs, with McCoy bowling a brilliant penultimate over, conceding just seven. Rajasthan needed to defend 16 in the final over.
When it seemed the game had swung in Rajasthan’s favour, Miller finished it off with three back-to-back sixes.
Rajasthan Royals 188/6 in 20 overs (Jos Buttler 89; Hardik Pandya 1-14) lost to Gujarat Titans 191/3 in 19.3 overs (David Miller 68*; Obed McCoy 1-40) by 7 wickets with three balls to spare. Player of the Match: David Miller.