Gujarat Titans reach final in first year by beating Rajasthan Royals in first qualifier

David Miller smashed Indian Premier League newcomers Gujarat Titans into the final as they beat Rajasthan Royals in the first qualifier despite a 56-ball 89 from Jos Buttler, BBC reported.

Needing 16 from the final over, Miller hit the first three balls for six to secure victory by seven wickets.

He put on an unbeaten 106 with Hardik Pandya to chase down the Royals’ 188-6.

Defeat does not eliminate Royals from the tournament, as they will compete in the second qualifier on Friday.

To decide who will join Gujarat in Sunday’s final, they will face either Lucknow Super Giants or Royal Challengers Bangalore, who play in the eliminator on Wednesday.

Rajasthan posted a competitive total after captain Sanju Samson’s 47 off 26 balls and England batter Buttler’s late surge of 50 from his final 18 balls.

The Titans slipped to 85-3 in reply before Miller and captain Pandya (40 not out off 27 balls) came together, and the Rajasthan bowlers and fielders started to struggle.

South Africa batter Miller took advantage, finishing with an unbeaten 68 from just 38 balls, including five sixes.

Miller makes Buttler’s flurry in vain

After a majestic start to his IPL campaign, with 419 runs including three centuries in seven matches, Buttler scored only 138 runs across the next seven.

His two-paced innings here was the inverse – a slow start gave way to a thrilling finale as Buttler recaptured his form.

After Samson departed, Buttler was scratchy and uncertain, particularly against the guile of Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who conceded only 15 runs from his four overs.

He was also lucky – on 43 he drilled the ball straight in the direction of Pandya at long-off, but the Titans skipper slipped and the ball sailed over his head for four.

A now fluent Buttler continued his flurry of fours down the ground, before he finally hit his first six off the final ball of the 19th over.

After another mighty six, Buttler was run out attempting a tight second run, but his return to form will boost Rajasthan’s hopes of making it through the second qualifier to have a shot at winning their second IPL title, having won the inaugural tournament in 2008.

Despite concerns over their batting depth before the tournament started, the Titans won 10 of their 14 games in the group stage to top the table and Miller and Pandya again showed the calmness that has underlined their success.

They kept up with the run-rate without taking too many risks, before capitalising on some wayward Royals bowling as they struggled with the wet ball, justifying Pandya’s decision to bowl first at the toss.

Obed McCoy conceded just seven off the penultimate over to keep it tight, but Miller polished off the chase in style, crashing three consecutive deliveries from fast bowler Prasidh Krishna over the ropes on the leg side.

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