Pandya hails 'very special' IPL title for newcomers Gujarat Titans

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Hardik Pandya said victory for Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League final was a "legacy" moment for the rookie team.

The Titans scorched to a seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals, getting home with 11 balls to spare as captain Pandya's man-of-the-match display paved the way.

He took 3-17 as the Royals were limited to 130-9, before weighing in with 34 runs as Gujarat cruised to their target and the IPL title at their home ground, the Narendra Modi Stadium.

Pandya was acquired after being released by Mumbai Indians, with whom he was four times a champion, and he said the Titans' success in their maiden season would be remembered for years to come.

"Obviously I count myself lucky. I've been in five finals, and I've won five times, so it's very exciting," Pandya said at the post-match presentation.

"This is going to be a very special one because we spoke about creating legacy and making sure that in generations to come everyone will remember this is the team that started this journey.

"To win the championship in the first year is very special."

Pandya bowled a steady line and got his rewards, before playing a reasonably patient innings, making his runs from 30 balls.

Known for his explosive batting, Pandya has reined that in at times this season and reaped the rewards, scoring an IPL career-high 487 runs across the campaign.

Pandya said of his bowling on Sunday: "For me it was all about sticking to the right length and asking the batters to play a good shot rather than me trying something and giving away a boundary."

When asked about his batting, and veering away from sky-high strike rates, Pandya said he was acting for the betterment of himself and his team.

"Any given day I'd take the trophy than me batting at 160 or 170 [strike rate]," he said. "For me, my team is the most important, whichever team I play for.

"I have always been that kind of individual. Outside noise does not bother me, and if I have to sacrifice and maybe have a worse season and my team still wins, I'll take that."

Rajasthan were looking for another Jos Buttler masterclass in Ahmedabad, but the English opener fell for 39 from 35 balls, Pandya taking the prized scalp.

Buttler finished the season as the competition's leading run-scorer, making four centuries and plundering 863 runs in all at a strike rate of 149.05 runs per 100 balls.

He achieved competition-highs in fours (83) and sixes (45), and was only sorry that the Royals fell at the final hurdle.

Buttler said: "I've exceeded all my expectations of this season apart from today, managing to take home the trophy we really wanted.

"I'm disappointed with that but want to say a big congratulations to Hardik and his team. I think they're very deserving champions.

"I think in good teams you have a lot of trust in everyone and I certainly have huge trust in everyone in our team. We all played fantastically well all season. We came up short today.

"I've lost plenty of finals in my career unfortunately, but today's been an amazing occasion and it's been a fantastic tournament."

Buttler spoke of the players' delight that crowds returned this season, having been kept away previously by the pandemic, and urged his younger colleagues "to soak it up and use the hurt from today to push you on further in the rest of your career".

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