A fit-again Hardik Pandya took to leadership like fish takes to water and showed the way with his all-round performances to guide Gujarat Titans (GT) to their inaugural India premier League title defeating Rajasthan Royals by 7 wickets at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad yesterday.
Chasing 131, GT were off to a poor start as opener W. Saha out cheaply to put early pressure on Gujarat lads. GT ended the powerplay on 31-2, but skipper Hardik and Shubman Gill slowly built their innings with a 63 run partnership for the third wicket.
Pandya went onto score 34 runs off 30 before Chahal broke the partnership in the 14th over It was also Chahal’s 27th wicket which surpassed Sri Lanka’s Wanindu Hasaranga’s 26 to win the race for the purple cap.
After Pandya’s dismissal, Gill (45*) was joined by David Miller (32*) and the duo made sure there were no further hiccups as they took their team over the line with 11 balls to spare.
Earlier, after being invited to bowl first, Hardik put on a captain’s display with the ball in the summit clash as he wreaked havoc with Rajasthan Royals (RR) line up to restrict them to just 130-9.
Hardik ended with 3-17, scalping the wickets of RR’s three biggest batters – Jos Buttler, skipper Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer.
Samson and Buttler were rebuilding the inning after the wicket of opener Yashasvi Jaiswal until Pandya came on to bowl in the 9th over, with RR struggling to get going despite having Buttler in the middle.
Samson was just getting his eye in when Pandya broke the partnership by getting rid of Samson with a hard length delivery for 14. Just one run came off that over.
The pressure was building on Buttler to up the ante, but Pandya managed to hit the perfect length to keep Buttler quiet. Buttler changed his tactics and tried to counter the short of length delivery by playing a deft touch towards the third man, but he got an edge and Wirddhiman Saha took a regulation catch behind the stumps.
RR’s only real hope of posting a healthy total hinged on Hetmyer, and the West Indian got two fours in the 14th over to get the momentum going. Pandya though was up to the task and bowled a length ball and Hetymer was way too early into his shot and was caught by the bowler.
Young Sai Kishore also contributed with 2 wickets, while Rashid Khan, Mohammed Shami and Yash Dayal shared a wicket each to virtually seal the match.
Jos Buttler impressed with a fighting 39 runs off 35 deliveries including 5 boundaries, while none of the other batters surpassed the 25 run mark.
Rajasthan Royals: 130-9 (20) (Jos Butter 39, Yashasvi Jaiswal 22, Hardik Pandya 3-17)
Gujarat Titans: 133-3 (18.1) (Shubman Gill 45*, Hardik Pandya 39, Trent Boult 1-14, Y. Chahal 1-20)