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Hardik Pandya. Picture: FRANCOIS NEL/GETTY IMAGES
Hardik Pandya. Picture: FRANCOIS NEL/GETTY IMAGES

New Delhi — Debutants Gujarat Titans were crowned the Indian Premier League (IPL) champions on Sunday after they capped a fairy-tale season by beating inaugural champions Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in front of 100,000 fans at their home ground in Ahmadabad.

Gujarat captain Hardik Pandya conjured up a stellar all-round display as his team clinched the low-scoring final with 11 balls to spare.

Opting to bat first, 2008 champions Rajasthan never got going and posted a below-par 130/9 with Jos Buttler, this IPL season’s leading scorer, top-scoring with a subdued 39.

Buttler began cautiously, going at a run-a-ball rate and hoping to explode towards the end but it was not to be.

Pandya (3/17) led by example with the ball, claiming the crucial wickets of counterpart Sanju Samson, opener Buttler and Rajasthan’s middle-order linchpin Shimron Hetmyer.

Gujarat lost Wriddhiman Saha and Matthew Wade cheaply but Pandya combined with Shubman Gill in a 63-run stand to help Gujarat overcome a slow start.

Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed Pandya for 34 runs to inject excitement into the match but Gill’s risk-free accumulation of runs and David Miller’s quick-fire 32 not out helped Gujarat to romp home in the penultimate over.

Opener Gill remained unbeaten on 45, sealing Gujarat’s victory with a six and celebrating it by removing his helmet and letting out a roar.

“I wanted to show what I had worked hard for,” Pandya, voted player of the match, said of his bowling efforts. “Today was the day I saved the best for.”

He controlled his natural aggressive batting to adjust to the conditions. “I will take the trophy any day over striking at 160 [percent]. My team comes first for me.”

Englishman Buttler was adjudged the tournament’s most valuable player for his tally of 863 runs from 17 matches, including a record-equalling four centuries.

“Exceeded all my expectation for the season apart from today,” Buttler said. “A big congratulations to Hardik and his team, they are the deserving champions.”

Reuters

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