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‘Killer’ Miller takes IPL debutants Gujarat Titans to finals

Wednesday 25 May 2022 | Written by Rahul Patil | Published in Cricket, Sports

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‘Killer’ Miller takes IPL debutants Gujarat Titans to finals
David Miller celebrates. Photo: Supplied/22052431

IPL 2022 league table toppers Gujarat Titans chased down a massive total set by the Rajasthan Royals to book their place in the final.

Having qualified for the playoffs in second place the Royals have another chance of making it to the final when they meet the winner of the Lucknow vs Bangalore match.

Playoff Qualifier 1

Gujarat Titans 191 for 3 (Miller 68*, Hardik Pandya 40*, Chahal 0/32) beat Rajasthan Royals 188 for 6 (Buttler 89*, Samson 47, Rashid Khan 0/15)

David Miller’s batting philosophy is pretty simple. “If it (the ball) is in the V, hit it to the top of a tree….and if it is the arc then hit it out of the park”.Having a philosophy like this one is great. Executing it in an IPL playoff game against a strong Rajasthan Royals bowling attack comprising of five international bowlers and in front of a capacity crowd of 70000 at the historic Eden Gardens stadium in Kolkata is epic.

The Gujarat Titans love chasing targets which is why captain Hardik Pandya had no hesitation in fielding first after winning the toss. They made a great start too dismissing young Royals opener Yashaswi Jaiswal for 3. But their joy was short lived as Royals captain Sanju Samson walked in and started hitting boundaries from ball one. Samson who was neglected by the Indian selectors while picking a team to face South Africa next month responded by smashing a 26 ball 47 against arguably the best bowling attack in the IPL. Just when you thought we would see a big innings from him today he was dismissed leaving us fans yearning for more. Samson often does this, but rather than measuring his innings by the weight of his runs the selectors need to value how impactful his innings are.

At the other end Jos Buttler was really struggling. Buttler’s IPL has been a story of two halves. In the first seven games he plundered 491 runs at an average of 82 and a strike rate of 159. In the next seven games though he only managed 138 runs at an average of 19 and a strike rate of 90. Like his season this innings of Buttler was also a story of two halves. He pushed, prodded and edged his way to 39 of his first 38 deliveries and would have been out for 43 of 40 deliveries if Hardik Pandya hadn’t slipped while trying to catch him. But just when Buttler’s innings really started hurting the Royals he somehow managed to flick a switch and the Jos Buttler from the first half of the season emerged smashing 50 runs of his last 18 deliveries. Buttler finished not out on 89 of 56 balls and the Royals finished with an impressive 188 for 6 of their allocated 20 overs.

Although all the Gujarat Titans bowlers were expensive one man walked off the field with his head held high – Rashid Khan. In a match where batters from both teams scored at 9.5 runs per over Rashid bowled his quota of 4 overs for only 15 runs i.e. an economy rate of 3.75 runs per over. There is a reason why Rashid Khan is considered to be the GOAT (Greatest of all time) as far as T20 cricket is concerned and he just added to his legacy with yet another phenomenal performance.

In the run chase Gujarat started poorly with inform opener Wriddhiman Saha being dismissed for a blob. Chasing a big total to win, opener Shubhman Gill and no 3 batter Matthew Wade kept up with the required run rate with some delightful stroke play. Their 71 run partnership of 43 balls set the platform for their power hitters to come in and finish the job. When they both were dismissed in quick succession the score was 85 for 3 and the match was in the balance. But what we witnessed next was a masterclass in run chasing. Captain Hardik Pandya and David Miller first consolidated the situation for a while picking up ones and twos. When they got a good measure of the pitch and the bowling they launched a vicious attack on all the Royals bowlers and dispatched them to all parts of the ground and at time beyond the boundary too. With 23 required of the final two overs the expectation was that the Titans would go big in over number 19 and try to finish the game, but West Indian Obed McCoy bowled superbly under pressure conceding only seven runs which meant 16 were still needed of the final over.

David Miller is a well-respected finisher in international cricket for South Africa. He has also made a name for himself in t20 franchise tournaments around the world. But until this season his credentials in the IPL were not proven. Yes, he played the odd good innings here and there but had never been as consistent as he has been this year. On strike requiring 16 to win cool as a cucumber he calmly unleashed three of the cleanest hits of the match to send the ball into the stands and booked Gujarat’s place in the final. It is a remarkable achievement for a brand new franchise to reach the final in their debut season. They don’t have the highest run scorers of the tournament or the highest wicket takers but each of their players at some point of time in the tournament has put up their hand and won games which is the sign of a true Champion team.

Rajasthan on the other hand have both the highest run scorer of the tournament in Jos Buttler and the highest wicket taker of the tournament in Yuzuvendra Chahal but the truth of the matter is that they crumbled under the pressure. Although Jos Buttler scored 89 not out of 56 balls it hides the fact that his dot ball percentage is the highest in the tournament. Thankfully having finished second on the table in the league stage Rajasthan have another chance of qualifying for the finals when they play the winner of the Lucknow vs Bangalore game. As always the final stages of the IPL delivers unlimited excitement. Sit back relax and enjoy the action.