South African batsman David Miller smashed an unbeaten 68 to lead newcomers Gujarat Titans into the Indian Premier league final with a seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday.
Chasing 189 for victory in the first qualifier, Gujarat rode an unbeaten 106-run fourth-wicket stand between skipper Hardik Pandya (40) and Miller to achieve the target with three balls to spare in Kolkata.
With 16 needed off the final over, the left-handed Miller smashed each of Prasidh Krishna’s first three balls for six to bring the house down at a full capacity Eden Gardens in the first qualifier.
His unbeaten 68 came from 38 balls and included three fours and five sixes.
Afghanistan spin wizard Rashid Khan set up the win with figures of 0-15 that kept Rajasthan to 188-6 despite Jos Buttler’s 56-ball 89.
Gujarat, one of two new teams alongside Lucknow Super Giants in the expanded 10-team IPL, now await their opponent for the title clash on Sunday in their home ground Ahmedabad. The second qualifier on Friday will decide the other finalist.
Rajasthan, who ended second in the table topped by Gujarat, have another shot of making the finals when they meet the winner of Wednesday’s eliminator between Lucknow and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Here are reactions to GT’s win in Qualifier 1:
Gujarat lost Wriddhiman Saha for nought off New Zealand quick bowler Trent Boult on the second ball of the chase with the crowd silenced by the departure of their local hero.
Shubman Gill (35) and Matthew Wade (35) then took charge to take the attack to the opposition bowlers as Gujarat reached 64-1 in six overs of the powerplay when only two fielders are allowed outside the inner circle.
The right-left batting pair of Gill put on 71 before a mix-up between the two saw Gill comfortably run out.
The Australian soon followed, slapping Obed McCoy to deep mid-wicket where Buttler made no mistake.
Pandya stood firm and found able company in Miller, who reached his twelfth half-century of the IPL, as the two put the chase back on track.
Earlier Rajasthan started cautiously before Sanju Samson made 47 off 26 balls, adding 68 with Buttler.
Samson hit five fours and three sixes before falling to left-arm spinner Sai Kishore in his attempt to get another hit over the fence only to get caught at long-off.
Rashid Khan kept a lid on the opposition scoring with his leg-spin as he choked the opposition of runs during his four overs.
Buttler, who leads the tournament batting chart with 718 runs including three centuries, never quite hit his best form as he hit 12 fours and two sixes in his 89.
Inputs from AFP