IPL 2022, Q1, GT vs RR, Top Performances: Hardik Pandya-David Miller's 106-run stand, Jos Buttler's 89 and Rashid Khan's 4-0-15-0 are top performances.
Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 188/6 (Buttler 89, Samson 47, Hardik 1-14) lost to Gujarat Titans 191/3 (Miller 68, Hardik 40, Boult 1-38) by 7 wickets
Player of the Match: David Miller – 68*(38)
Two months of action-packed cricket - four venues, 10 teams and 70 games later, we had the top-two teams, Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Gujarat Titans (GT), in action on Tuesday night at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata, fighting in Qualifier 1 for a slot in the all-important final.
GT captain Hardik Pandya won the toss and elected to bowl first on this fresh pitch. The situation was perfect for both the teams, as Gujarat had won 6 games chasing and Rajasthan had won 7 games defending the total. Head-to-head, Gujarat defeated Rajasthan in the solo game they played against each other in the league stages. Sanju Samson, on the other hand, created a rather unwanted record by losing the highest number of tosses (13) as a captain in a single season. Gujarat went into this match with one change, bringing in Alzarri Joseph for Lockie Ferguson. Whereas, Rajasthan went ahead with an unchanged eleven.
Gujarat Titans through to IPL Final
Rajasthan didn’t start well, as they lost the in-form Yashasvi Jaiswal with just 11 runs on the board. Sanju Samson walked in with the aim of shifting gears for RR and parking his vehicle in front of the Indian selectors who ignored him for the South Africa series. Sanju directly started in the 6th gear, hitting a six on the very first ball of his innings.
Samson was looking in a different rhythm today, as he was dealing in boundaries and sixes till the 14th ball of his innings and reached 30 runs in just 13 deliveries, with three sixes and three fours already under his belt. Sanju and Jos Buttler soon put up a 50-run stand, and RR were comfortably poised at 75-1 after nine overs.
After Samson’s wicket, Gujarat applied the brakes on the scoring rate of Rajasthan, as RR were reduced to 124/3 with five overs left in the bank. Buttler was struggling to put bat on ball and was batting at a strike rate of below 100 until the 15th over. This was the third time this season that Buttler had failed to reach 50 at the end of the 15th over and RR had lost in the first two instances.
Rashid Khan had played in eight playoff matches before this, where he had taken 8 wickets at a stunning economy rate of just 4.76. Rajasthan played out the danger man sensibly without taking any risks. Once Buttler’s prominent match-up Rashid had finished his spell, the real Buttler came back to the party in the final four overs. Rajasthan scored 60 runs between 16 and 20 and finished with 188/6 at the end of 20 overs.
It was a disastrous start for GT, as they lost Wriddhiman Saha on the second ball of the run chase. Gujarat recovered well and kept scoring at over 10 runs per over and finished the powerplay with 64-1. This was only the second time this season when RR had conceded more than 60 in the powerplay. The 72-run stand came to an end courtesy of a run out by Shubman Gill. Soon after, even Matthew Wade was dismissed for 35, which is also his highest score in IPL history. After 13.1 overs, Gujarat were 116-3, almost 17 runs ahead of where RR were at the same stage.
Needing 60 off the final six overs, the stage was set for Pandya and Miller to unleash at the end if they didn’t lose a wicket. What followed was absolutely what the Gujarat team has been doing the entire season. A 106-run partnership between the captain and ‘Killer Miller’ ensured the most successful team defending the total were left clueless. Miller’s 6, 6 and 6 off the first three balls of the final over bowled by Prasidh Krishna gave GT their 7th win in their eight games chasing a target. On all the eight occasions when GT chased, the match had gone into the final over.
Top Three Performances from Qualifier 1 between GT and RR, TATA IPL 2022.
‘Jos the Boss’ delivers crucial 56-ball 89 in Qualifier 1
After the first few overs, where Jos Buttler hit three boundaries, it felt as if he was replaced by an imposter in the field. We don’t often see Buttler playing with a strike rate of below 100. But Gujarat had done their R&D well before the match, as they had brought Rashid Khan bowling from one end when Buttler was in the middle. Rashid had dismissed Buttler four times, while Buttler had a strike rate of just 61, scoring just 25 runs in the 41 balls faced by Rashid prior to Tuesday’s game. In fact, Buttler was so quiet in the first half that he didn’t score a single boundary between the 2.4 over mark right upto the 15th. A massive dry phase of 24 deliveries without a single six or a four was finally over when he smashed Hardik Pandya for a four.
Buttler, who was struggling against the spinners, started licking his lips after seeing a seamer come on for the 17th over. Smashing 18 runs off Yash Dayal's over, the Orange Cap holder brought up his fourth fifty of the season. Buttler then scored 14 and 13 runs in the 18th and 19th overs, respectively, before getting run out on the assumed last ball of the innings, which was later called a no-ball.
Buttler, who was striking at just a run a ball till the 16th over, ended the innings with a strike rate of 158.33. Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get. Such was the case with Buttler on Tuesday, as he was dropped twice, once by Rashid and once by the GT captain Pandya where he slipped preparing for an easy catch.
Buttler's innings was a masterclass for every young batter, showing how important it is to take the game deep and just bat out the difficult phase and wait for your opportunities. If it wasn’t for Buttler's gritty and impactful knock of 89, Rajasthan would have been well short of even 160 on this wicket. In Tuesday’s game, Buttler had scored just 13 runs off 17 against spin and hammered the pacers, scoring 76 against them in 39 deliveries faced.
‘Killer Miller’ seals the match with 6, 6, 6!
David Miller came into bat when Gujarat were 85/3, and the table-toppers needed another 92 runs off the final 10 overs to make it into the finals of Tata IPL 2022. Miller was targeted by his matchups with Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal, as both of them have dismissed Miller three times each. However, Miller had a healthy strike rate of 173.3 against Chahal, where he had scored 52 runs off the 30 deliveries faced by Chahal.
Miller still played sensibly and cautiously against Ashwin and Chahal, knocking singles and the odd boundary off the bad deliveries bowled by both the veteran spinners. It was in the 18th over, when Miller smashed a massive 98m six, the sound of which reverberated right from the eastern part of India, Kolkata, to the western part of India, Gujarat! It wasn’t a bang-bang innings from Miller where he absolutely bashed the bowlers.
In fact, the match was very much in the balance till the 19th over, and it was down to 16 runs needed from the final six deliveries. With four players on the off-side boundary and only one on the leg side to left-hander Miller, the field setup suggested that the ball would be outside off stump to Miller. Prasidh erred in line and it was in the arc and it was duly out of the park! David Miller stepped across the stumps and absolutely smoked the first ball over long-on. The second ball was even poorer, a length ball and boy! Miller was in too good a form to miss that and smashed it over deep square leg. With just four needed off four, Miller completed the formalities with another maximum to make it 6, 6, and 6 off the first three and sealed the game for Gujarat Titans with a blistering knock of 68* off just 38 deliveries. In the first 14 balls of Miller's innings, he scored just 10 runs, and in the last 24 balls he scored 58 runs!
Kung fu Pandya’s all-round show takes Gujarat to their first ever finals!
Rajasthan Royals were slowly gathering pace with a steady partnership between Devdutt Padikkal and Buttler. Hardik Pandya took it upon himself to get rid of one of them and delivered a smart off-cutter outside off which Padikkal dragged onto the stumps. Hardik with the ball has been a revelation this season with his golden arm and economical short spells.
When it came to the run chase, Hardik was back to the responsible batter that we have season through the season. Hardik's captaincy has certainly brought another page into his book of batting. Without taking many risks, playing just sensible cricket shots, Pandya was managing to find a boundary in almost every other over.
This kept the required run rate going as Miller, on the other end, was taking his time settling into his innings. In fact, the dangerous Hardik Pandya, who has a strike rate of 200+ at the Eden Gardens, didn't even hit a single six in his innings that spanned 27 balls. The best spin bowling duo of Ashwin and Chahal went wicketless in this match. This was only the second time this season, when Rajasthan spinners didn’t take even a single wicket. Such was the impact of the 106* partnership between Hardik and Miller, who absolutely gave no chance to the Rajasthan bowlers to come back into the game.
Hardik was also impressive with his captaincy, especially manifested in the way he utilised Rashid Khan. When all the other GT bowlers were smacked for more than seven runs per over, the leggie finished with just 3.75 runs per over as Rashid was at his premier best with an economical spell of 4-0-15-0.
What’s to Come
On May 25, Royal Challengers Bangalore will face Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator of Tata IPL 2022.