Hardik Pandya praises ‘Killer’ Miller as Gujarat Titans reach IPL 2022 final

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Hardik Pandya praises 'Killer' Miller as Gujarat Titans reach IPL 2022 final
Hardik Pandya praises 'Killer' Miller as Gujarat Titans reach IPL 2022 final

Hardik Pandya praises ‘Killer’ Miller as Gujarat Titans reach IPL 2022 final

Skipper Hardik Pandya on Tuesday hailed “match-winner” David Miller after the South African batsman led newcomers Gujarat Titans in to the IPL 2022 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.

Miller, nicknamed ‘Killer’ for his strong hitting, hammered three fours and five sixes in his 38-ball innings.

Hardik Pandya praises 'Killer' Miller as Gujarat Titans reach IPL 2022 final
Hardik Pandya praises ‘Killer’ Miller as Gujarat Titans reach IPL 2022 final

“A lot of people counted David Miller out but for us he was always a match-winner from the time we brought him in the auction,” Pandya said of the attacking batsman who has been key to Gujarat’s success in their debut season.

“What he did today, we always expected him to do that. But for us it was important to give him importance, love and clarity that what we expect of him and if he fails it’s okay, ‘it’s just a game’.”

Despite Jos Buttler’s 56-ball 89, Afghanistan spin maestro Rashid Khan set up the win with figures of 0-15 that held Rajasthan to 188-6.

Gujarat, one of two new clubs in the expanded 10-team IPL alongside Lucknow Super Giants, will face their title opponent on Sunday at their home field of Ahmedabad.

The other finalist will be determined by the second qualifier on Friday.

Rajasthan, who finished second in the table to Gujarat, will face the winner of Wednesday’s eliminator between Lucknow and Royal Challengers Bangalore for a chance to go to the finals.

“We are still alive. Also we still got a chance, disappointed today. But dust ourselves off and go again,” Buttler said of his team, who won the inaugural edition in 2008. “We have full faith in the guys, we have a really good team.”

On the second ball of the chase, Gujarat lost Wriddhiman Saha for zero to Trent Boult of New Zealand. With the audience stunned by the loss of their local star.

Gujarat reached 64-1 in six overs of the powerplay. When only two fielders are allowed outside the inner circle, thanks to Shubman Gill (35). And Matthew Wade (35) taking leadership of the attack.

Gill and his right-left batting partner put up 71 runs when Gill comfortably run out due to a mix-up.

Soon after, the Australian slapped Obed McCoy to deep mid-wicket, where Buttler made no mistake.

As the two put the chase back on track, Pandya remained firm and found able company in Miller. He reached his thirteenth half-century of the IPL and named man of the match.

Rajasthan had begun cautiously before Sanju Samson scored 47 off 26 balls and added 68 with Buttler.

Samson smashed five fours and three sixes before succumbing to left-arm spinner Sai Kishore. He attempted to knock another over the fence but caught at long-off.

With his leg-spin, Rashid Khan restricted the opposition from scoring during his four overs, choking them of runs.

Buttler, who has 718 runs to his name in the event. Including three hundreds, was never quite at his best, hitting 12 fours and two sixes in his innings.