Image credit: Nepal Press

Gujarat Titans upset Rajasthan Royals in the first qualifier, despite Jos Buttler’s 56-ball 89. David Miller hammered Gujarat Titans into the final.

Miller struck three sixes in the first three balls of the final over to secure a seven-wicket victory.

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

The Royals are still in the competition despite their loss, as they will compete in the second qualifier on Friday.

Gujarat will play either Lucknow Super Giants or Royal Challengers Bangalore in the eliminator on Wednesday to determine who will join them in the final on Sunday.

After skipper Sanju Samson’s 47 off 26 balls and England batsman Buttler’s late push of 50 from his final 18 balls, Rajasthan posted a competitive total.

In response, the Titans fell to 85-3 when Miller and captain Pandya (40 not out off 27 balls) came together, and the Rajasthan bowlers and fielders began to suffer.

Buttler got only 138 runs in the next seven matches after a magnificent start to his IPL campaign with 419 runs and three hundred in seven games.

Buttler’s two-paced innings were the polar opposite, with a lethargic start giving way to an exciting finish as he regained his form.

On 43, he drove the ball straight to Pandya at long-off, but Pandya slipped and the ball soared over his head for four.

Buttler was run out attempting a tight second run after another powerful six, but his return to form will bolster Rajasthan’s chances of making it through the second qualifier and earning their second IPL crown, after winning the first tournament in 2008.

Despite concerns about their batting depth before the tournament, the Titans won 10 of their 14 games in the group stage to finish first, and Miller and Pandya continued to display the composure that has been a hallmark of their success.

To keep the chase tight, Obed McCoy let up just seven runs in the penultimate over, but Miller finished it off in style, bashing three consecutive deliveries from fast bowler Prasidh Krishna over the leg side ropes.

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