Gujarat Titans crowned 2022 IPL Champions after 7 wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in the final.
Rajasthan Royals: 130/9 (Jos Buttler 39, Yashasvi Jaiswal 22; Hardik Pandya 3/17, Sai Kishore 2/20)
Gujarat Titans: 133/3 in 18.1 overs (Shubman Gill 45*, Hardik Pandya 34; Trent Boult 1/14, Yuzvendra Chahal 1/20)
Hardik Pandya has sealed off a golden IPL season, putting together a match-winning performance with the ball in the final against Rajasthan Royals on Sunday to help Gujarat Titans win the title in their debut season.
After Rajasthan skipper Sanju Samson won the toss and elected to bat first at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Pandya ensured his team got a firm hold of the proceedings, picking the big wickets of Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer during his 3/17. Rajasthan were eventually restricted to 130/9 with Buttler finishing as the top-scorer with his 39.
In reply, Gujarat lost the wicket of Wriddhiman Saha in the second over itself but fellow opener Shubman Gill carried his bat for an unbeaten 45 while Pandya added 34 and David Miller helped Gill finish off the chase with his 19-ball 32. Gujarat won the match with 11 balls to spare.
Rajasthan Elected to Bat First
Earlier in the day, after Rajasthan elected to bat first, Hardik Pandya recorded his best IPL bowling figures, 3/17 in four overs, to help restrict Rajasthan to 130/9.
With the crowd firmly behind him and chanting his name, Pandya took out Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and Shimron Hetmyer in a tight bowling display by the home side on a slow, dry pitch to keep Rajasthan to a low score, which they wouldn't have imagined after electing to bat first.
Yashasvi Jaiswal began by playing seven dot balls before clearing Mohammed Shami over mid-off for a boundary, followed by an emphatic lofted drive over cover for six. He went on to hook Yash Dayal for a six over long-leg, but the left-arm pacer struck on the very next ball, cramping the left-hander for room and miscuing the pull to deep square leg.
Despite the Jaiswal blitz, Gujarat kept Rajasthan on a tight leash in power-play, with Lockie Ferguson bowling the fastest ball of the tournament with a wide yorker going past a circumspect Buttler's bat. After Rashid Khan didn't leak any boundary in his first two overs, including getting some turn from his googly, Buttler made full use of the width from Ferguson to smash back-to-back boundaries.
Samson tried to up the ante but miscued the pull off the outer edge to backward point off Pandya, his captaincy counterpart. He was nailing his hard lengths against Devdutt Padikkal, which eventually forced the left-hander to end his misery by cutting to short third man off Khan. Pandya's seam up delivery on the back of the length worked again when Buttler nicked behind to keeper Wriddhiman Saha.
Hetmyer carted Pandya for boundaries through off-side in the 15th over. But the Gujarat skipper had the last laugh when the left-hander defended too early on a back of the length ball and popped a simple return catch back to the bowler, effectively breaking the back of Rajasthan's innings.
Their slide continued as R Sai Kishore had Ravichandran Ashwin holing out to long-on and then got Trent Boult to slice straight to long-off. Riyan Parag and Obed McCoy produced a boundary each to take Rajasthan to 130 before being dismissed in the final over off Shami.
Chasing 131 wasn't going to be easy for Gujarat on a slow, dry pitch with variable bounce, where Hardik Pandya had taken a fantastic 3/17 in the first innings. Wriddhiman Saha was clean bowled by a quick inswinger from Prasidh Krishna while Matthew Wade flicked straight to mid-wicket off Trent Boult.
After Gujarat could amass just 31/2 from power-play, Rajasthan's bowling continued to be incisive from both ends as Shubman Gill and Hardik Pandya struggled to break free despite some boundaries here and there. Gill, who was dropped on fourth ball of the innings, earned another reprieve in the eighth over when a hoick down the pitch wasn't caught by a diving extra cover.
But the introduction of Ravichandran Ashwin brought Pandya the chance to find his groove, taking the off-spinner for a four with a thick outer edge past the keeper and followed it up with a six over wide long-on.
The 63-run stand off 53 balls between Pandya and Gill ended when Yuzvendra Chahal took out the former with the one turning away and taking the outer edge, giving a catch to slip. It seemed like Pandya's dismissal would leave Gujarat in a spot of bother.
David Miller, one of their key players in the season, began by driving Obed McCoy through extra cover for a boundary and then dispatched an overpitched ball from Ashwin over long-on to make the equation 22 runs off the last four overs.
The left-hander took two boundaries off Krishna's final over, a pull swivelled over fine leg followed by a thick edge through third man. Gill finished off the innings in style with a swivelled six off McCoy over deep square leg to make Gujarat IPL 2022 champions.
(With inputs from IANS)