Gujarat Titans skipper Hardik Pandya recorded his best IPL bowling figures, 3/17 in four overs, to restrict Rajasthan Royals to 130/9 in 20 overs in the title clash at a packed Narendra Modi Stadium here on Sunday.
With the crowd firmly behind him and chanting his name, Pandya took out Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and Shimron Hetmyer in a tight bowling display by the home side on a slow, dry pitch to keep Rajasthan to a low score, which they wouldn’t have imagined after electing to bat first.
Yashasvi Jaiswal began by playing seven dot balls before clearing Mohammed Shami over mid-off for a boundary, followed by an emphatic lofted drive over cover for six. He went on to hook Yash Dayal for a six over long-leg, but the left-arm pacer struck on the very next ball, cramping the left-hander for room and miscuing the pull to deep square leg.
Despite the Jaiswal blitz, Gujarat kept Rajasthan on a tight leash in power-play, with Lockie Ferguson bowling the fastest ball of the tournament with a wide yorker going past a circumspect Buttler’s bat. After Rashid Khan didn’t leak any boundary in his first two overs, including getting some turn from his googly, Buttler made full use of the width from Ferguson to smash back-to-back boundaries.
Samson tried to up the ante but miscued the pull off the outer edge to backward point off Pandya, his captaincy counterpart. He was nailing his hard lengths against Devdutt Padikkal, which eventually forced the left-hander to end his misery by cutting to short third man off Khan. Pandya’s seam up delivery on the back of the length worked again when Buttler nicked behind to keeper Wriddhiman Saha.
Hetmyer carted Pandya for boundaries through off-side in the 15th over. But the Gujarat skipper had the last laugh when the left-hander defended too early on a back of the length ball and popped a simple return catch back to the bowler, effectively breaking the back of Rajasthan’s innings.
Their slide continued as R Sai Kishore had Ravichandran Ashwin holing out to long-on and then got Trent Boult to slice straight to long-off. Riyan Parag and Obed McCoy produced a boundary each to take Rajasthan to 130 before being dismissed in the final over off Shami.
Brief scores: Rajasthan Royals 130/9 in 20 overs (Jos Buttler 39, Yashasvi Jaiswal 22; Hardik Pandya 3/17, R Sai Kishore 2/20) against Gujarat Titans.