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regular-article-logo Monday, 20 May 2024

Clear in mind, David Miller brings A-game to Gujarat Titans

The left-handed batsman’s power-hitting abilities were always known, which his figures for South Africa in limited overs cricket reflect

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 26.05.22, 01:36 AM
Gujarat Titans’ David Miller after their win on Tuesday.

Gujarat Titans’ David Miller after their win on Tuesday. IPL

From not being even a first-choice player to being a match-winner. That has been the story of David Miller since his arrival at Gujarat Titans from Rajasthan Royals.

The left-handed batsman’s power-hitting abilities were always known, which his figures for South Africa in limited overs cricket reflect. An average of 40.73 at a strike rate of 101.03 in 143 ODIs, and averaging 31.89 and striking at 140.62 in 95 T20Is underpin Miller’s prowess in the shorter versions.

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But in this IPL, one has witnessed a “transformed Miller”, who’s as important as the others instrumental in earning the Titans a final berth in their debut season.

The 32-year-old middle-order batsman always had this capability to hit the ball a long way and to all corners of the ground, irrespective of how fast an opposition bowler bowled. But spin had been his problem, something that was brutally exposed by wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal during the seven-match ODI series when India toured South Africa in 2018.

Playing five matches in that series, Miller had totalled just 107 runs with only a 39 as his highest score. Kuldeep and Chahal got him out twice each.

However, in the ongoing IPL and, more importantly, in conditions where he isn’t much accustomed to playing, Miller, with two fifties so far, aggregates 449 runs, averaging an impressive 64.14 at a strike rate of 141.19. At present, he is just four short of Titans captain Hardik Pandya (453 runs), their top run-getter in this IPL.

This would not have been possible had Miller not improved against spin. “David has certainly worked on his game against spin,” agreed Imraan Khan, Miller’s coach and a former teammate at Dolphins.

“He had always been a clean hitter of the ball and had a lot of power since his early days. But at present he has a clearer mind and a simpler

approach. And when it comes to tackling spin, he’s executing the sweep shot in a much better way,” Khan said on Wednesday. “When the ball is in his arc, he’s just going ahead with the shot he intends to play without being in two minds.”

In Tuesday’s Qualifier I at the Eden, Miller had no problems whatsoever in dealing with Chahal. He even tonked Chahal for a huge six over long on in his unbeaten 38-ball 68 which led the Titans to a seven-wicket win over the Royals.

Team environment

Last season for the Royals, Miller had managed only 124 runs in nine appearances at a strike rate of 109.73. Figures that weren’t at all exceptional. Now, Miller seems to be at home in the Titans camp, while he also has the support of captain Hardik Pandya.

“A lot of people counted David out. But for us he was always a match-winner from the time we bought him at the auction,” Hardik said.

“We had to give him the importance, give him that love and the clarity as to what we expect from him.

“And if he fails, it’s okay. It’s just a game.”

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