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GT vs RR, IPL 2022 Qualifier 1: Miller and Pandya’s match-winning stand, Samson’s blitz and other talking points

Skipper Hardik Pandya on Tuesday hailed “match-winner” David Miller after the South African batsman led newcomers Gujarat Titans in to the IPL final with a seven-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals.

Chasing 189 for victory in the first qualifier, Gujarat rode an unbeaten 106-run fourth-wicket stand between Pandya (40) and Miller (68) to achieve the target with three balls to spare in Kolkata.

With 16 needed off the final over, the left-handed Miller smashed each of Prasidh Krishna’s first three balls for six to bring the house down at a full capacity Eden Gardens in the first qualifier.

Known as ‘Killer’ Miller for his big hitting, the left-hand batsman smashed three fours and five sixes in his 38-ball knock.

David Miller and Hardik Pandya embrace after guiding the Gujarat Titans to a seven-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier 1 of IPL 2022 at Kolkata's Eden Gardens. Sportzpics

David Miller and Hardik Pandya embrace after guiding the Gujarat Titans to a seven-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier 1 of IPL 2022 at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens. Sportzpics

Afghanistan spin wizard Rashid Khan set up the win with figures of 0-15 that kept Rajasthan to 188-6 despite Jos Buttler’s 56-ball 89.

Gujarat, one of two new teams alongside Lucknow Super Giants in the expanded 10-team IPL, now await their opponent for the title clash on Sunday in their home ground Ahmedabad.

The second qualifier on Friday will decide the other finalist.

Rajasthan, who ended second in the table topped by Gujarat, have another shot of making the finals when they meet the winner of Wednesday’s eliminator between Lucknow and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

As we look back at the GT-RR Qualifier 1 clash, we list some of the key talking points from the game:

Sanju Samson’s early assault

Samson perhaps wanted to make a statement and send out a message to the national selectors who ignored him while picking India’s squad for the upcoming T20I series against South Africa.

The RR captain smashed the ball out of the park for a six off Yash Dayal’s bowling in the very first delivery he faced and would collect another 41 off 25, giving the Royals a much-needed boost early on in their innings even when batting partner Buttler had slowed down. Samson was eventually dismissed just three short of what would’ve been a well-deserved half-century.

Rashid Khan applies the brakes

Khan may not have been among the wickets, but he certainly was effective in terms of applying the brakes on Rajasthan’s scoring rate in the middle overs.

Introduced right after the powerplay and bowling three overs on the trot in his first spell, the Afghan leg-spinner gave nothing away and kept the Rajasthan batters, especially Buttler, on a stranglehold, with his disciplined display, conceding just 15 from his four overs in the end.

The opposition batters adopting the caution-first approach against him and looking to play him out is what led to the Royals collecting less than 130 at the 16-over mark.

Jos Buttler’s late burst

Buttler got off to a promising start, collecting three boundaries with exquisitely-timed cover drives off Mohammed Shami’s bowling in the powerplay, but went into his shell once Yashasvi Jaiswal was dismissed and Samson arrived at the crease.

Buttler had been going through a lean patch going into this game, having collected just 63 runs in the last five outings which, along with Rashid’s disciplined approach, may have contributed towards his safety-first approach. At the end of the 16th over, Buttler’s score read 39 off just 38.

The English keeper-batter though, more than made up for it with a late assault in the RR innings, contributing 50 of the 61 runs collected in last four overs as Rajasthan posted a competitive 188/6 on the board.

A dramatic final over

The final over of the Rajasthan innings witnessed a plenty of drama with 16 runs coming off it along with consecutive run outs.

Buttler had been batting on 80 but he was at the non-striker’s end at the start of the over, with Riyan Parag collecting three off the first two balls. Buttler then tonked the ball over long on for a six, but Yash Dayal did well to follow it up with a dot and a brace.

Buttler then ended up getting run out off a no-ball, dashing back for a non-existent second run. That was followed by another run-out, this time Ravichandran Ashwin ignoring Parag’s call for a quick run after leaving a wide delivery alone, the latter getting stranded at the striker’s end as a result. In the end, Ash managed to collect a brace off the final delivery.

Miller and Pandya seal the deal

Things did get a little interesting during Gujarat’s chase of the 189-run target when Trent Boult dismissed Wriddhiman Saha for a two-ball duck and both Shubman Gill and Matthew Wade were dismissed for 35, with the game still in the balance at the halfway stage.

Gujarat’s middle-order though had consistently been delivering for the side throughout the season and it was the in-form pair of Miller and Pandya that saw the team home with an unbroken 106-run stand that resulted in yet another successful chase for the Titans.

Gujarat’s run rate was already in excess of 9 when they arrived at the crease, and they ensured they kept the required rate in check as they went about collecting boundaries at regular intervals, even off in-form bowlers such as Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin.

Things did get slightly tricky after a tidy penultimate over from McCoy left them needing 16 to win off six, but Miller saved his best for the last as he smashed a hat-trick of sixes off Prasidh Krishna to guide his side to the final.

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