IPL 2022: Playing every game has allowed me to settle in my role, says Gujarat Titans’ David Miller
IPL 2022: David Miller’s three consecutive sixes off Prasidh Krishna to seal the first Qualifier against the Rajasthan Royals at Eden Gardens, when his team needed 16 off the final over, summed up how lethal he has become in IPL 2022. The Gujarat Titans cruised to a 189-run victory thanks to the South African’s brilliant 38-bal 68 not out.
Miller gave the ideal finishing touches to the Gujarat Titans innings for the umpteenth time this season. While his quickfire cameos have been plenty, his best score – a match-changing 51-ball unbroken 94 against Chennai Super Kings at Pune – was a knock for the ages, as he rescued his team out of a hailstorm with Rashid Khan.
The 32-year-old South African has scored 449 runs in 15 games at an average of 64.14 to become the leading run-scorer for Gujarat Titans in this edition, the best of his nine IPL seasons. He looked lot more dangerous at No 5 than when he was with the Rajasthan Royals or Punjab Kings. His solid blows were a huge part of GT’s incredible run to the championship in the franchise’s debut season.
It’s hard to imagine that this is the same player that struggled to out bat the ball for the Royals in the IPL-2021, scoring only 124 runs in nine matches at an average of 24.80 with only one fifty. It was no surprise that he remained unsold in the first round of this year’s IPL auction before being picked up for Rs 3 crore by Gujarat Titans. So far, that purchase has shown to be a great bargain!
Miller has now found ‘job stability’ and ‘role clarity’ in the IPL, thanks to his captain Hardik Pandya, and is making the most of it.
“Definitely something that has changed this season is that I am playing every game. The last four-five years in the IPL, I had a bad season in 2016 and since then haven’t really felt that (good) at all. It is the nature of the IPL, that there are a lot of overseas players and only four can play,” explained Miller in an interaction organized by Gujarat Titans.
“I had to go back and work on my game and just try to find a way to get it going. I have backed all the way through, playing all the games and it allows you as a player to settle and really not worry about the selection, more so (on) winning games. That has been a standout to me this season.”
Batting at No. 5 instead of No. 6 has given him more time to get in, and the promotion also indicates the team management’s faith in his ability to guide the team’s ship through the middle overs.
“This season, I’ve been batting a bit higher. I have managed to bat from the start of the season and play all the games. So it has been enjoyable that I am not in and out. And I have managed to build something the whole season and keep my confidence growing.
“The backing of captain Pandya and coach Ashish Nehra has made him relaxed off the field, and that has helped him excel on the field. “I really enjoyed that and the environment has a big part to play in all our performances. As a player if you are well-looked off the field, you feel comfortable and be yourself and I am confident that for a lot of players, it will come out in the game. Credit to the management, captain, the guys have put a lot of effort in making the players comfortable,” he said.
Miller has been able to attack spin with ease while batting in the middle overs, allowing GT to surge at that time of the innings.
“It has been a good season for me against spin, I must be honest. It has been something that I have worked hard on and I have never really thought. That I have been a player that struggled against spin, but it is an area I had to improve. And the last three-four years I have changed my mind-set against spin. I have changed one or two things. And I feel like it is just about making sure, especially in T20 cricket. That I pose myself, when there is a bad ball, I am looking to score every ball. But if there is bad ball I am in good position to put it away for a four or six, it creates a bit of pressure on bowler. So that is one of the things mentally I have tried to improve,” he explained.
Miller is benefiting from his experience as a professional cricketer at this point in his career, having spent nearly a decade in the IPL’s high-pressure environment.
“As you play more cricket, you mature as a player and understand the different pressures. And deal with failures, what works for you, what you need to do and what not. So all these come. With experience and I feel I am in a place where I played for 12 years in the IPL. I have been playing 14 years of professional cricket, so I should know my game by now. I am in a place where I’m enjoying taking on certain roles. And challenges and loving part of this successful team,” he said.
Hardik waxed poetic on Miller, his star finisher, after his heroics in the first qualifier.
“I am genuinely proud of the way he has lifted his game. He is genuinely a damn good guy. I was proud to play with him, enjoy it. He is simply such a wonderful guy, I always wanted good things to happen to him,” Hardik said.
It was critical for Hardik to give Miller the impression. That he wouldn’t dropped after only one or two missteps. Both of his previous teams had denied him a definite berth in the starting XI.
“It kind of shows that if you show love and importance to a particular player, he can flourish and how! A lot of people counted David Miller out. But for us, he was a match-winner from the time we bought him in the auction. It was important to give him that importance, clarity from what we expect from him. If he fails, it’s okay, it’s just a game,” Hardik said.
“If it’s in the V, it’s in the tree. Also if it in the arc, it out of the park,” joked Miller. During the post-match presentation after starring in GT’s win in Qualifier One.
It’s not a joke that folks bowling against him are having a great time!
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