Debutants Gujarat Titans were crowned the Indian Premier League (IPL) champions on Sunday after they capped a fairytale season by beating inaugural champions Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in front of 100,000 fans in their home ground in Ahmedabad.
Gujarat captain Hardik Pandya conjured up a stellar all-round display as his team clinched the low-scoring final with 11 balls to spare, reports Reuters.
Opting to bat first, 2008 champions Rajasthan never got going and posted a below-par 130-9 with Jos Buttler, this IPL’s leading scorer, top-scoring for them with a rather subdued 39.
Buttler began cautiously, going at a run-a-ball rate and hoping to explode towards the end but it was not to be.
Pandya (3-17) led by example with the ball, claiming the crucial wickets of counterpart Sanju Samson, opener Buttler and Rajasthan’s middle-order lynchpin Shimron Hetmyer.
Gujarat lost Wriddhiman Saha and Matthew Wade cheaply but Pandya combined with Shubman Gill in a 63-run stand to help Gujarat overcome a slow start.
Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed Pandya for 34 runs to inject some excitement into the match but Gill’s risk-free accumulation of runs and David Miller’s quickfire 32 not out helped Gujarat to romp home in the penultimate over.
Opener Gill remained unbeaten on 45, sealing Gujarat’s victory with a six and celebrating it by removing his helmet and letting out a roar.
“I wanted to show what I had worked hard for,” Pandya, who also bagged the player-of-the-match award, said of his bowling efforts.
“Today was the day I saved the best for.”
Pandya said he had controlled his natural aggressive batting to adjust to the conditions.
“I will take the trophy any day over striking at 160. My team comes first for me.”
Englishman Buttler was adjudged the tournament’s Most Valuable Player for his tally of 863 runs from 17 matches, including a record-equalling four centuries.
“Exceeded all my expectation for the season apart from today,” Buttler said.
“A big congratulations to Hardik and his team, they are the deserving champions.”