Hardik shines with ball as Gujarat limits Rajasthan to 130/9 in IPL final


Ahmedbad, May 29

Gujarat Titans’ highly-rated bowling attack, led by skipper Hardik Pandya himself, limited a formidable Rajasthan Royals batting unit to 130 for nine in the Indian Premier League final here on Sunday.

Hardik (3/17) struck thrice in his four overs while Rashid Khan (1/18) delivered yet again on the big stage to put their team on course for a title in its debut season.

Rajasthan did not have the best of starts after skipper Sanju Samson decided to put runs on the board in a big final.

With more than a lakh supporting the home team, Gujarat bowlers were able to maintain the pressure on the opposition though Jos Buttler (39 of 35) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (22 off 16) tried their best to break free.

Jaiswal, who looked tentative against the pace and swing of Mohammad Shami, took more chances compared to Buttler at the start of the innings.

Among the shots Jaiswal attempted, his most assuring stroke was a beautifully timed six over cover off Shami. After pulling Yash Dayal for a massive six over long leg, the southpaw tried one too many and was caught in the deep. The extra bounce induced the mishit.

Buttler, who began his innings with a crisp square cut, was joined by Samson (14 off 11) in the middle.

Knowing both Rajasthan right-handers struggle against Rashid Khan, Hardik brought the star spinner into the attack in the powerplay itself. 

Both Buttler and Samson chose to play safe against Rashidh as Rajasthan reached 44 for one in the powerplay.

The in-form Buttler decided to force the issue as he drove Lockie Ferguson over the cover fielder before cutting him for successive boundaries.

The New Zealander was generating serious pace and went on to clock 157.3 kmph, the fastest ball of the tournament.

Samson did not last long as his opposite number Hardik removed him on his second ball of the game. Hardik hit the hard length and Samson went for the pull shot only to be caught on the off-side, leaving Rajasthan at 60 for two in 8.2 overs.

Rajasthan’s struggles worsened when Devdutt Padikkal (2), who took eight balls to get off the mark, and Buttler departed in a space of three balls.

Rashid ended the painful stay of Padikkal before Hardik got the massive wicket of Buttler. The Englishman attempted to steer one to third man but ended up edging it back to the wicketkeeper. 

At the other end, new batter Shimron Hetmyer had to answer to the guile of Rashid, who was getting his googlies to rip. 

With Rajasthan going at run a ball after 14 overs, big hits were the need of the hour.

However, Hardik made it 94 for five by having the dangerous Hetmyer caught and bowled.

R Ashwin perished in the following over, ending all hopes of a Rajasthan fight back. Shami ended the innings in style by castling Riyan Parag’s stumps with a perfectly placed yorker. PTI  


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