Gujrat Titans Lifts Their Maiden IPL Trophy
Gujrat Titans (GT) lifts their maiden IPL Trophy in their debut season by beating Rajasthan Royals by 7 wickets at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. The win completed a remarkable campaign for Gujarat, one of two new teams in the IPL. From dominating the group stage games to staying unbeaten in the playoff rounds, Gujarat has been the standout side of the tournament. GT didn't just lift the IPL trophy, but also pocketed a cheque of a whopping sum of Rs 20 crore. The BCCI awards the mega sum to the IPL champions. RR, who finished as the runners-up, were given a cheque of Rs 12.5 crore. Hardik Pandya is presented with the cup and is the Player of the Match for his all-round performance both with the bat (34 runs off 30 balls) and with the ball (3/17). Kumar Sangakkara, the head coach of Rajasthan collects the runners-up medal. Jos Buttler is the Player of the Season.
Royals skipper Sanju Samson justified the decision at the toss ceremony, stating that the pitch wore a dry look. The move did not work, as Rajasthan finished with a low score. Hardik was the wrecker-in-chief, picking up three big wickets. Hardik kept an awkward length outside off, making it difficult for the batters to put him away. In dismissing his opposite number Samson, Jos Buttler and Hetmyer, Hardik crushed the core of the Royals batting. Rashid Khan, who extracted turn with his quick, flat deliveries, also proved to be a handful. The Afghanistan spinner and Hardik conceded just 35 runs in the eight overs they bowled. Royals were down in a hole after the departure of Jos Buttler (39, 35b, 5x4). Buttler, the man in form after his unbeaten century on Friday, was uncharacteristically subdued. He struggled to get it off the square, eventually falling to a tame nick off Hardik.
Chasing 131, Gujarat overcame a slow start to finish in style. Captain Hardik Pandya (34, 30b, 3x4, 1x6) and Gill (45 n.o., 43b, 3x4, 1x6) took the side to a comfortable position with a 63-run third-wicket stand. There were a few tense faces in the stands when Hardik edged Yuzvendra Chahal to slip, but next man David Miller eased all nerves with a polished unbeaten 32. Gill was fortunate to get a reprieve in the first over, when he was yet to open his account. An inside edge off Trent Boult lobbed to Chahal who put down an easy catch at square-leg. Shimron Hetmyer failed to grab a tough chance, running back from cover, when Hardik was on three. It came as a surprise when Royals chose to bat first. Royals had won its previous match chasing, and had lost the Qualifier 1 to Titans when batting first.
It was quite a one-sided finals in the end! Gujarat probably wanted it a lot more than Rajasthan as the latter were just not as their best. They were well below par with the bat, despite being around 60 for 1 in the 8th over, they ended up with only 130. Yes, the likes of Pandya and Rashid bowled brilliantly but the batting and the shot selection was also not of the highest quality. The new team, the new entrant manages to lift the trophy in the first year itself. Outstanding display from them. Just brilliant. They were the best team in the tournament and they have shown why! For the third time they have managed to beat Rajasthan in this edition and this win is probably the most convincing and the sweetest.
By leading his team to IPL triumph, Pandya’s approach towards cricket will change when it comes to international cricket. He will play with more responsibility, think more about his game and his teammates, bat with more responsibility and see that his team is well-placed. And when it comes to bowling, and if his back allows him to, he can be a world-class all-rounder that the Indian team is still looking for, something that he ought to have been much earlier but for injuries curtailing his progress.
Not many expected Gujarat Titans to go all the way to lifting the trophy and do what Rajasthan Royals did in 2008, win the IPL title in their maiden IPL season. But Titans believed in themselves, a collective effort right through the tournament helping them reach the pinnacle. The Titans deserve all the accolades that come their way for the way they went about winning the tournament. Pandya knows what it means to be defending an IPL title. His experience with MI in the past, and the guidance of able support staff that includes head coach Ashish Nehra and consultant/batting coach Gary Kirsten, will come in handy when the Titans return to IPL action next year.