With more than one lakh fand cheering them vociferously, and their anthem ‘Aava De’ (bring it on!) blaring at full volume at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday night, Shubhman Gill, who cracked an unbeaten 45 (43b, 3×4, 1×6) finished off the proceedings in style for the Titans, pulling Obed McCoy for a six to seal a seven-wicket triumph in the final over a heartbroken Rajasthan Royals.
While Gill played the anchor’s role in the chase to perfection, the Titans owed their win in the summit clash to Pandya, who produced a top-class act with the ball, taking three for 17 to restrict the Royals to just 130 for nine.
Chasing just 131, the Titans were in trouble when they slipped to 23 for two in the fifth over but Pandya then pitched in with the bat, producing a vital 34-run knock (30b, 3×4, 1×6). The India allrounder added 63 in 53 balls for the third wicket with Gill to calm his team’s nerves. Pandya’s departure — caught at slip by Yashasvi Jaiswal off Yuzvendra Chahal — brought some cheer to the Royals, but their joy was short-lived, as Gill held one end up firmly, while David ‘Killer’ Miller (32 not out, 19b, 3×4, 1×6) uncorked the finishing act for one last time in IPL-2022.
Playing at their home venue for the first time, the Titans thus enjoyed a sweet homecoming. Meanwhile, playing well below their potential, appearing completely subdued and off-colour with the bat, and relying too heavily on Jos Buttler, the Royals ran out of gas at the finishing line.
Reserving his best-ever IPL show with the ball for the final, Pandya unleashed four fine overs of fast bowling to leave the Royals gasping for breath. He scalped his opposite number Sanju Samson (14) with just his second ball, before following up with the big wicket of Jos Buttler (39, 35, 5×4) and then Shimron Hetmeyer (11) to rip the heart out of the Royals’ innings. Since the last few years, the 28-year-old has been under the scanner for not bowling, or bowling too less, but on Sunday night, he bowled his best in a long time, something that should please the Indian selectors no end.
While Samson mistimed a pull off him to be caught by Sai Kishore, who ran in from third man, Buttler, who looked dangerous again, edged a ball while trying to run it down the third man. Hetmeyer became Pandya’s third wicket when a leading edge off the West Indian’s bat popped back to the bowler.