Gujarat Titans 133 for 3 (Gill 45*, Hardik 34, Miller 32*, Boult 1-14) beat Rajasthan Royals 130 for 9 (Buttler 39, Hardik 3-17, Sai Kishore 2-20) with seven wickets
The damage proved irreparable, especially for a thin lineup that had R Ashwin, Riyan Parag, Trent Boult, Obed McCoy, Prasidh Krishna and Yuzvendra Chahal from numbers 6 to 11.
The Royal Delay
Yashasvi Jaiswal, the Royals power play dasher, needed eight balls to get off the court on Sunday. When Mohammed Shami made a mistake, Jaiswal pumped him to the ground and over extra cover for borders. However, Yash Dayal had him pull 22 balls from 16 balls to a deep square leg.
Masterclass by Hardik
Hardik kept pushing hard, making sure Devdutt Padikkal couldn’t score a single point against him from seven balls. Something had to be given and that was Padikkal throwing his bat at Rashid Khan and swinging a catch backward point for 2 of 10 balls.
Buttler threatened to break free with back-to-back fours on Shami in the tenth left, but Hardik let him limply lead a catch to the keeper for 39 shortly afterwards.
Hardik wasn’t done with the ball yet. He capped his spell by popping Hetmyer a blowback for 11 of 12 balls.
In more encouraging signs for India, Hardik bowled without the fear of injury and even ripped good bouncers at speeds north of 140 mph.
Sai Kishore steps forward to bowl at death
Hardik, the captain, didn’t miss anything either. Once the left-handed pair of Padikkal and Hetmyer were fired, Hardik introduced Sai Kishore to the attack. The left-armed finger spinner, who went on to bowl the 16th and 18th overs, responded with Ashwin and Boult’s wickets.
Miller, Gill bring Titans home
The only way for Royals to get back into the game was to push through early. Prasidh and Boult did, losing Saha and Wade respectively, leaving Titans wobbly at 23 for 2 in the fifth over.
Gill could also have been fired in the power play if Chahal had held a short square leg flyout. Gill, who was at zero at the time, pushed through and scored an unbeaten 45 from 43 balls. However, it was Hardik who put the Titans’ pursuit on track when he hit three limits in seven balls after having 11 of 17 balls.
When Chahal Hardik managed to get an outside edge, he snatched the purple hat from fellow leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga. However, Miller went on the attack from the Royals and gave Titans’ first IPL campaign a smashing end along with Gill.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo