IPL 2022: This title is special, says Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya

Gujarat Titans beat Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in the final on Sunday


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Gujarat Titans players celebrate their victory. (BCCI)
Gujarat Titans players celebrate their victory. (BCCI)

Published: Mon 30 May 2022, 12:20 AM

Last updated: Mon 30 May 2022, 12:21 AM

Hardik Pandya starred with bat and ball as Gujarat Titans clinched the IPL title in their debut season with a seven-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in front of a record crowd of 104,859 in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

Pandya returned figures of 3-17 to restrict Rajasthan to 130 for nine in the lop-sided final at the world’s biggest cricket stadium and Gujarat’s home ground.

The captain then made 34 with the bat before Shubman Gill (45) and David Miller (32) steered the team home in 18.1 overs to bring the house down at the 132,000 capacity stadium.

It was a fairytale finish for a team that entered the world’s richest domestic cricket tournament alongside Lucknow Super Giants in the expanded 10-team IPL this year.

Pandya set up victory with his key wickets including Jos Buttler’s prized scalp for 39 after Rajasthan, led by Sanju Samson, elected to bat first.

Buttler, who hit an unbeaten 106 in Rajasthan’s win in the second qualifier, finished this season as the leading batsman with 863 runs and his wicket raised the roof at a stadium bigger than the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan returned impressive figures of 1-18 from his four overs of leg-spin to keep down the opposition scoring.

Pandya, who sent back his opposite number Samson for 14, kept up the pressure and got the big-hitting Shimron Hetmyer out for 11 with a caught and bowled.

Fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Yash Dayal, who got opener Yashasvi Jaiswal for 22, worked up good pace to keep Rajasthan on the backfoot from the start.

In reply, Gujarat lost Wriddhiman Saha for five and Matthew Wade for eight before Shubman and Gill and Pandya put the chase back on track.

The pair put on 63 runs for the third wicket to put the pressure back on the bowling side as Pandya smashed Ravichandran Ashwin for a four and six in the 12th over.

Yuzvendra Chahal got Pandya out with his leg spin to overtake Wanindu Hasaranga of Royal Challengers Bangalore as the leading wicket-taker of the tournament and finished with 27 scalps.

But Gill, who was dropped on nought by Chahal, stood firm to put on an unbeaten 47-run stand with left-handed South African batsman David Miller, who made 32 off 19.

Gill’s 45 came from 43 balls and ended with a six that secured the victory. The two batsmen hugged and, as the fireworks erupted, the Gujarat players came running on to the pitch to celebrate.

“The kind of support the support staff has shown for the players is wonderful. This is the right example for every team in the world that if you can play as a team, you can do wonders,” Pandya said.

“This title is going to be a special one because we talked about creating a legacy. The coming generations will talk about it.”

Rajasthan go back dejected after their first final appearance since they won the inaugural edition in 2008 under late Australian hero Shane Warne.

“We have been able to play good cricket and give fans some happy moments. All the youngsters, seniors played well as a team, I am proud of my team,” captain Samson said.

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