Excellent knocks by David Miller (68 not out off 38) and skipper Hardik Pandya (40 not out off 27) led Gujarat Titans to the final of IPL 2022 in their debut season with a convincing seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier 1 at iconic Eden Gardens, here on Tuesday. Miller and skipper Hardik batted sensibly and stitched an unbeaten partnership of 106 runs for the fourth wicket. Gujarat will now play the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad in front of a large crowd. A fighting fifty by Jos Buttler (89 off 56) and Sanju Samson's attacking knock (47 off 26) powered Rajasthan Royals to 188/6 in 20 overs. Apart from Buttler and Samson, Devdutt Padikkal (28 off 20) also made a valuable contribution with the bat for Rajasthan, after being invited to bat first.
Chasing a challenging total, Gujarat were off to a bad start as Trent Boult produced an absolute peach of delivery to dismiss Wriddhiman Saha (0) in the second ball of the very first over of the innings. However, the wicket didn't affect the chase much as Shubman Gill and Matthew Wade went crazy, smashed the ball all-round the park to take Gujarat to 64/1 in the powerplay. During the process, they smashed R Ashwin for 17 runs in his first over. Gill in particular was very aggressive and he continued that approach even after the first six overs and was racing towards his fifty but a horrible mix-up with Wade cost him his wicket. Thereafter, Yuzvendra Chahal, the standout bowler for Rajasthan, dried up the boundary for Wade who eventually perished hitting a short one from Obed McCoy straight to deep midwicket. At 85/3 just before the halfway mark, Gujarat had plenty of work left to do still.
Despite Wade's wicket, McCoy ended up conceding 18 in the 10th over of the innings with Hardik Pandya picking three boundaries off the erratic bowling. While the West Indian came back with a boundary-free second over, the pressure was once again released when Ashwin conceded a boundary apiece to Hardik and Miller in his final over as the veteran spinner completed his bowling spell with 40 runs. Miller also hit Chahal for a six in the next over as Gujarat kept the asking rate in control, leading into the end overs. With another monstrous six against Chahal and powerfully drilled boundary against McCoy, Miller got to a half-century off 35 balls and brought down the equation to 16 off the final over. Prasidh Krishna came to bowl the last over for Rajasthan Royals and Miller hit three consecutive sixes smashed over the legside and along with Hardik, he led Gujarat to an impressive 7-wicket win with three balls to spare.
Trent Boult (1/38) and Obed McCoy (1/40) were the only wicket-takers for Gujarat. Earlier, put into bat first, Rajasthan lost the wicket of Yashasvi Jaiswal in the last ball of the 2nd over of the innings. Jaiswal, after a painful 8-ball 3, nicked a wide Yash Dayal delivery through to the keeper and then walked despite the umpire not hearing anything. Skipper Sanju Samson, who came to bat next, got off the mark in style, hitting six off the very first ball he faced in this innings. The stylish batter was in fine touch and kept hitting boundaries at regular intervals. Watching his batting partner bat with positive intent, Jos Buttler was happy to play second fiddle as Rajasthan finished the powerplay with 55/1. However, Gujarat spinners Rashid Khan and Sai Kishore pulled things back for their team as they bowled the next three overs with discipline. With run-rate going a bit down, Samson (47 off 26) decided to target inexperienced Sai Kishore but he ended up falling to him in the 10th over. Left-handed Devdutt Padikkal, who came to bat after Samson's wicket was showing positive intent in the middle by hitting Sai Kishore for couple of sixes Buttler was struggling to get going from the other end.
It was skipper Hardik Pandya, who brought the next wicket for Gujarat by removing Padikkal, who tried to pull the ball but ended up dragging it to his stumps. Soon, Rashid Khan completed his tidy spell of 4 overs by giving just 15 runs. With Buttler on 39 off 38 and Shimron Hetmyer, who had played very few balls, at the other end, Rajasthan were 127/3 in 16 overs. And, it seemed Gujarat will restrict them to a below-par total but Buttler had other plans. Buttler, after starting off aggressively, stagnating in the middle overs, finally found some timing. The luck also began to favor him as Hardik and Rashid dropped the England cricketer at different stages. Buttler opened out in a big way towards the end as in the last 4 overs Gujarat dropped catches and did misfields under the pressure. Despite Hetmyer's wicket in the 19th over, Buttler continued his assault by smashing the ball all over the park. Overall, the last 4 overs produced 60 runs as Rajasthan Royals finished with 188-6 on the board. Hardik Pandya (1/14), Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore (1/43), Mohammed Shami (1/43) and Yash Dayal (1/46) were the wicket-takers for Gujarat Titans.
Brief scores: Rajasthan Royals 188/6 in 20 Overs (Jos Buttler 89, Sanju Samson 47; Hardik Pandya 1/14) lost to Gujarat Titans 191/3 in 19.3 Overs (David Miller 68 not out, Hardik Pandya 40 not out; Trent Boult 1/38) by 7 wickets