IPL 2023: Hetmyer holds the key to Rajasthan's hopes of winning title

In Shimron Hetmyer, Royals has one of the most explosive finishers in Twenty20 cricket


Leslie Wilson Jr

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Shimron Hetmyer of Rajasthan Royals plays a shot during the match against Gujarat Titans. — IPL
Shimron Hetmyer of Rajasthan Royals plays a shot during the match against Gujarat Titans. — IPL

Published: Sun 16 Apr 2023, 11:17 PM

If Rajasthan Royals was wondering what they had to do to turn the tables on the reigning IPL champions Gujarat Titans, they found the formula at the magnificent Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday evening.

After suffering three bruising defeats during the 2022 season Rajasthan took the fight to its rival, displaying heroic survival instincts, throwing punch for punch, and always believing that it had what it takes to win.

Under the leadership of Sanju Samson, a captain with discipline and determination, the Royals acquired new skills and an abundance of the winning attitude to pull the irons out of the first in another pot-boiler of a T20 match.

Here are five factors that made Match No 23 between last season’s top two sides and another one for the ages.

Samson’s leadership

From behind the stumps, Samson, who also scored a magnificent 32-ball 60, (3 fours, 6 sixes) sees everything with X-Ray vision and marshalled his bowlers and fielders with hawk-eye precision.

Although Rajasthan went into Sunday’s crunch match with just five strike bowlers, including three key spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, and Ravichandran Ashwin, at no time did the attack lack tooth.

Add to that Trent Boult and Sandeep Sharma bowled with a firm hand and in the end, Gujarat was restricted to a par total of 177.

The ultimate finisher

In Shimron Hetmyer (56 not out off 26 balls, 2 fours, 5 sixes), Royals has one of the most explosive finishers in Twenty20 cricket.

Traditionally a top-order batsman with the West Indian team, the dashing Guyanese batsman assumes a new persona as a match-winning end-overs player with a superlative knock.

The confidence he exuded on Sunday was both infectious as it was inspiring, even coercing two magical knocks from tail-enders Dhruv Jurel (18 from 10) and Ashwin (10 from 3).

Sunday's knock proved that Hetmyer would hold the key to the Royals hopes of winning the IPL title for the first time since 2008.

Trusted allies

With both Wriddhiman Saha (4) and young Sai Sudharsan (20) falling during the power play, skipper Hardik Pandya (28 off 19 deliveries) turned to his most trusted ally, Shubman Gill (45 off 34) to forge a crucial half-century partnership.

While Gill provided the backbone to the innings, it was apparent that he did not get as much of the strike as he would have liked to. But when he did, he lit up the magnificent Narendra Modi Stadium before uncharacteristically losing his wicket, perhaps due to a loss of rhythm from loss of batting time at the crease.

Middle order Miller

David Miller (46 off 30 balls), last season’s best finisher, was the rock that the Titans was looking for to hold the innings together and the South African did not disappoint.

The all-rounder has said that he is working hard on his fitness and it showed as he displayed in his power hitting.

Good toss to win

In hindsight, it was a good toss to win by Samson, who after taking a good look at the profusion of dew on the wicket, put Gujarat in to bat. The decision paid dividends as Rajasthan reduced the rivals to just 32 for two in five overs.

Their spinners would also find assistance in the moisture that made batting first relatively challenging.

Brief scores:

Rajasthan Royals beats Gujarat Titans by three wickets.

Gujarat Titans 177/7 in 20 overs (Shubman Gill 45, David Miller 46, Hardik Pandya 28; Sandeep Sharma 2-25, Adam Zampa 1-32)

Rajasthan Royals 179/7 in 19.2 overs (Sanju Samson 60, Shimron Hetmyer 56 not out, Devdutt Padikkal 26; Mohammed Shami 3-25, Rashid Khan 2-46, Hardik Pandya 1-24)

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