A determined Gujarat Titans made their maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) season an unforgettable one by lifting the 2022 title with a seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in front of a roaring home crowd of 1,04,859 at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday.
By finishing off a chase of 131 with 11 balls remaining and defeating Rajasthan for the third time in IPL 2022 after losing the toss, Gujarat have capped off a season where they exceeded everyone's pre-tournament expectations to become champions in their debut season of the competition.
Chasing 131 wasn't going to be easy for Gujarat on a slow, dry pitch with variable bounce, where Hardik Pandya had taken a fantastic 3/17 in the first innings. But with a below-par total to chase down, Gujarat paced their chase in a clinical manner to clinch the trophy.
Wriddhiman Saha was clean bowled by a quick inswinger from Prasidh Krishna while Matthew Wade flicked straight to mid-wicket off Trent Boult. After Gujarat could amass just 31/2 from power-play, Rajasthan's bowling continued to be incisive from both ends as Shubman Gill and Hardik Pandya struggled to break free despite some boundaries here and there.
Gill, who was dropped on fourth ball of the innings, earned another reprieve in the eighth over when a hoick down the pitch wasn't caught by a diving extra cover. But the introduction of Ravichandran Ashwin brought Pandya the chance to find his groove, taking the off-spinner for a four with a thick outer edge past the keeper and followed it up with a six over wide long-on.
The 63-run stand off 53 balls between Pandya and Gill ended when Yuzvendra Chahal took out the former with the one turning away and taking the outer edge, giving a catch to slip. It seemed like Pandya's dismissal would leave Gujarat in a spot of bother.
David Miller, one of their key players in the season, began by driving Obed McCoy through extra cover for a boundary and then dispatched an overpitched ball from Ashwin over long-on to make the equation 22 runs off the last four overs.
The left-hander took two boundaries off Krishna's final over, a pull swivelled over fine leg followed by a thick edge through third man. Gill finished off the innings in style with a swivelled six off McCoy over deep square leg to make Gujarat IPL 2022 champions.
Earlier, Pandya recorded his best IPL bowling figures to restrict Rajasthan to a low total in the title clash. With the crowd firmly behind him, Pandya took out Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and Shimron Hetmyer in a tight bowling display by the bowling unit.
Yashasvi Jaiswal began by playing seven dots before clearing Mohammed Shami over mid-off for a boundary, followed by an emphatic lofted drive over cover for six. He went on to hook Yash Dayal for a six over long leg, but the left-arm pacer struck on the very next ball, cramping the left-hander for room and miscuing the pull to deep square leg.
Despite the Jaiswal blitz, Gujarat kept Rajasthan on a tight leash in power-play, with Lockie Ferguson bowling the fastest ball of the tournament with a wide yorker going past a circumspect Buttler's bat. After Rashid Khan didn't leak any boundary in his first two overs, including getting turn from his googly, Buttler made full use of the width from Ferguson to smash back-to-back boundaries.
Samson tried to up the ante but miscued the pull off the outer edge to backward point off Pandya. He was nailing his hard lengths against Devdutt Padikkal, which eventually forced the left-hander to end his misery by cutting to short third man off Khan. Pandya's seam up delivery on back of the length worked again when Buttler nicked behind to Saha.
Hetmyer carted Pandya for boundaries through off-side in the 15th over. But the Gujarat skipper had the last laugh when the left-hander defended too early on a back of the length ball and popped a simple return catch back to the bowler, effectively breaking the back of Rajasthan's innings.
With R Sai Kishore taking out Ravichandran Ashwin and Trent Boult, Riyan Parag and Obed McCoy produced a boundary each to take Rajasthan to 130 before being dismissed in the final over, paving the way for Gujarat to take the trophy.
Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 130/9 in 20 overs (Jos Buttler 39, Yashasvi Jaiswal 22; Hardik Pandya 3/17, R Sai Kishore 2/20) lost to Gujarat Titans 133/3 in 18.1 overs (Shubman Gill 45 not out, Hardik Pandya 34; Trent Boult 1/14, Yuzvendra Chahal 1/20) by seven wickets