KOLKATA, India (AP) — David Miller smashed three successive sixes in the last over as first-timer Gujarat Titans breezed into the final of the Indian Premier League with a dominant seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday.
Rajasthan, which won the inaugural IPL in 2008, will have another chance to qualify for the final as they take on winner of Wednesday’s eliminator between Lucknow Super Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Miller blazed 68 off 38 balls and captain Hardik Pandya scored an equally splendid 40 off 27 balls as Gujarat cruised to 191-3 with three balls to spare.
Both Gujarat batters decimated the spin threat of the tournament’s top wicket-taker, Yuzvendra Chahal (0-32), after Jos Buttler’s masterful 89 had lifted Rajasthan’s total to 188-6.
“I have played a long time but I am understanding my game better,” Miller said. “There’s been a lot of people going wide outside off stump, so I decided to step that side. I knew they had a certain plan.”
Trent Boult had given Rajasthan an early breakthrough when he had Wriddhiman Saha caught behind off a superb second ball which nipped away from the right-hander and got a faint edge.
But Shubman Gill and Matthew Wade both played significant cameos of 35 runs each before Miller and Pandya led the way for Gujarat, which had topped the league stage with 10 wins.
Obed McCoy raised Rajasthan's hopes when the left-arm West Indian fast bowler gave away only seven runs in the penultimate over, in which Miller raised his fifty off 34 balls with a single.
But Miller kept his nerves and smacked Krishna’s first ball over long on before hitting the fast bowler for two big sixes over midwicket and cruised his team to a dream IPL final in its debut season.
Earlier, Buttler’s astonishing run of form continued as the Englishman raised his tally of runs to 718 with three centuries and four solid half centuries from 15 games.
Luck also favored Buttler as he escaped three dropped catches in an innings which featured a dozen boundaries and two late sixes.
Captain Sanju Samson played well for his 47 off 26 balls before dragging a catch at long on midway through the innings. Devdutt Paddikal (28) scored freely against the spinners but was tied down by the Gujarat fast bowlers before he played onto Pandya in the 15th over.
But Buttler counter-attacked in the death overs and raised his half century off 42 balls. The Englishman hit eight fours and two sixes in the last four overs that also included four boundaries in fast bowler Yash Dayal’s one over and three off Joseph Alzarri's penultimate over.
Buttler was run out in the last over while going for the second run, but his superlative effort was upstaged by Miller and Pandya’s brilliant run-chase.
“The wicket was a bit sticky (and) that total in that kind of conditions was great,” Samson said, while adding that he had been unlucky in the tournament with the tosses after losing the toss on Tuesday. “We have been playing good cricket … luck plays a huge role, the toss plays a huge role.”
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