Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Gujarat Titans 191 for 3 (Miller 68*, Hardik 40*) beat Rajasthan Royals 188 for 6 (Buttler 89, Samson 47, Hardik 1-14) by seven wickets
A man who wasn't snapped up until the fag end of an exhaustive two-day auction was front and centre of Gujarat Titans' dream run into the IPL final, which will be played at their home ground in front of possibly 100,000 fans in Ahmedabad.
David Miller, enjoying his best IPL returns since 2013, channeled the spirit of Carlos Brathwaite by going 6, 6, 6 in a sensational final-over take down of Prasidh Krishna as Titans made no fuss in polishing off the 16 runs they needed off the final over. Miller remained unbeaten on 68 off 38, and his partnership of 106 with Hardik Pandya, who made a subdued unbeaten 40, ensured Titans were always ahead of a chase of 189. They eventually got home with three balls to spare and with seven wickets in hand.
Buttler starts, Samson sustains
Jos Buttler laced three boundaries off Mohammed Shami early on to give Royals the push they needed to overcome the early loss of Yashasvi Jaiswal. Samson then came out and batted like a man possessed, standing upright and striking the ball on the up. Clearing his front leg and swinging through cleanly, he hit three fours and two sixes off his first 10 deliveries. His first non-boundary run came in the seventh over. It told you of his intent to give his team the extra runs they may have needed to deal with the dew that was expected later in the evening. Samson raced to 30 off 13 as Royals made 55 for 1 in the first six overs.
Buttler slowed down, initially because Samson took on the aggressor's role. Then Rashid Khan, who had a favourable match-up against Englishman - four dismissals, strike rate of 60 - had him all at sea with his bag of ripping googlies and legbreaks. Having bowled three overs on the trot for 12, Rashid paved the way for R Sai Kishore to remove Samson to further dent the Royals. Rashid finished with an economy rate of 3.75, mostly because of his genius, but also because the opposition only had six specialist batters and they couldn't afford to take too many risks.
From the end of the third over to the start of the 15th, Buttler failed to hit a single boundary. And then they came in torrents. He hit left-arm seamer Yash Dayal for four fours in the 17th. The second of those, with Buttler on 43, would've been straight down Hardik's throat at long-off had he not slipped. Two balls later, he raised a fifty off 42 balls. It wasn't until the 19th over that he hit his first six, and it was quite a hit as he cleared his front leg and walloped Shami way over long-off. The last five overs went for 64, Buttler alone hitting 52.
Titans rocked early
The Titans lost powerplay maverick Wriddhiman Saha for a duck when he nicked Trent Boult in the first over, but quickly recovered with Shubman Gill and Matthew Wade's calculated assault. Gill triggered a surge when he took on R Ashwin in the last over of the powerplay. He began with a six over extra cover, before flicking him for two more boundaries as Titans ended the first six on 64 for 1, their highest powerplay score of the season. Gill looked peerless until his innings ended courtesy a mix-up with Wade as he tried to keep strike. Wade, who initially turned for a second, froze to leave Gill stranded. To make matters worse, Wade also fell two overs later as Titans were 85 for 3 in the 10th over.
Miller, Hardik see Titans home
Miller and Hardik took calculated risks and peeled off risk-free runs including a 14-run final over from Ashwin that consigned him to 4-0-40-0, his worst figures this season. Titans needed 50 off the last five, but weren't allowed to break free as Chahal and Obed McCoy kept things tight. McCoy was especially effective with his bag of slower deliveries, and Chahal varied his pace and lengths to bowl a tight 18th that left Titans needing 23 off 12. Miller's ability to pick boundaries covered up for Hardik's struggles on what Samson described as a "sticky wicket". McCoy's tight 19th that went for just one four meant Royals had the cushion of 16 in the final over. But Miller had other ideas. He went 6,6,6 to give Titans a ticket to their dream finale.
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