Nobody gave them a chance but Gujarat Titans, bucking all pre-tournament predictions, surprised everyone by lifting the Indian Premier League title in a dream maiden season.
Hardik Pandya was the star of the day for the Gujarat Titans.
He picked 3 for 17 and then scored a 30-ball 34 as the Titans pulled off a crushing 7-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
In the title clash, Gujarat Titans were the much better team after Hardik Pandya led from the front.
Royals splutter at start
Rajasthan did not have the best of starts after skipper Sanju Samson decided to put runs on the board in a big final.
Both the openers, Buttler and Jaiswal were relatively subdued.
Gujarat bowlers were able to maintain the pressure though Jos Buttler (39 of 35) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (22 off 16) tried to break free.
After pulling Yash Dayal for a massive six over long leg, Jaiswal tried one too many and was caught in the deep.
Sanju Samson joined Buttler and Hardik’s response was immediate.
Knowing well that both the Rajasthan right-handers struggle against Rashid Khan, Hardik brought on the star spinner in the powerplay itself.
Though they didn’t risk playing shots against Rashid, it created a bout of pressure.
As a result, Samson fell bring a pull shot only to be caught on the off-side off Hardik.
The turning point happened in the space of three balls when both Buttler and Padikkal departed.
Next, Hardik made it 94 for five by having the dangerous Shimron Hetmyer caught and bowled.
In the very next over, Ashwin too was dismissed, ending Royals’ hope of posting a big score.
Gujarat face early setbacks
The pace duo of Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna were brilliant in the powerplay.
They reduced Gujarat to 31 for two with Wriddhiman Saha (5) and Matthew Wade (8) back in the dugout.
Krishna got one to seam back in from good length to breach Saha’s defence and crash into the stumps.
Boult, who also bowled a maiden over in his tidy spell, removed Wade.
Gujarat would have been three down in the powerplay if Yuzvendra Chahal held on to a simple catch of Gill off Boult in the first over of the innings.
Hardik and Gill take control
Hardik and Gill struggled to hit boundaries but the asking rate remained very much in control.
Things changed when R Ashwin was introduced in the 12th over.
Hardik decided to go after him, collecting a four and six off successive balls to bring up the 50-run stand with Gill.
Hardik managed to score a rapid 34 off 30 balls that helped Gujarat gain the momentum.
Chahal snagged Hardik in the 14th over, with Titans 45 away from victory.
However, Shubman Gill and David Miller coolly took Gujarat over the line.
Miller, one of the success stories for GT remained unbeaten on 32.
The beautiful 9️⃣-letter word that we are going to be known by 👑#SeasonOfFirsts pic.twitter.com/rzYesX41lk
— Gujarat Titans (@gujarat_titans) May 29, 2022
Gujarat Titans: Wriddhiman Saha (w), Shubman Gill, Matthew Wade, Hardik Pandya (c), David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Lockie Ferguson, Yash Dayal, Mohammed Shami
Rajasthan Royals: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler, Sanju Samso (w/c), Devdutt Padikkal, Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Prasidh Krishna, Obed McCoy, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Gujarat Titans 133 for 3 (Gill 45*, Hardik 34, Boult 1-14) beat Rajasthan Royals130 for 9 (Buttler 39, Hardik 3-17, Sai Kishore 2-20) by seven wickets