Ahmedabad, May 25: When the Gujarat Titans acquired David Miller from the auction ahead of IPL 2022, there were a lot of raised eyebrows.
After all, Miller was viewed as a finished material as far as the IPL is concerned. He had spent a few frustrating seasons with the Rajasthan Royals, playing just 20 matches over three IPLs.
In the last 3 IPLs, (2019, 2020 and 2021), Miller made 213, 0 and 124 runs. But in IPL 2022, the South African left-hander has made 449 runs from 15 matches at an average of 64.14 and at a strike-rate of 141.19 with 2 fifties.
Most of those runs came in the backend of the innings when the GT needed some quick runs to extend the total the realm of improbable or chasing down a heavy target. Miller has excelled for the Titans this season as the finisher while batting first or second.
It has played a big role in GT finishing up as the top team of the league phase.
“If it's in the V, it's in the tree. If it is in the arc, it's out of the park,” Miller told half-jokingly during the post-match presentation.
So, what has changed for him at the Gujarat Titans?
“I have been given a good role and given an extended run. Have good backing from the outside. For my personal game, I am enjoying my role. I have played long time but I am understanding my game better. I am trying to keep everything closer to my game plan,” said Miller.
Miller explained further. “There's been a lot of people going wide outside off stump, so I decided to step that side. I knew they had a certain plan. In franchise cricket you get to meet players, I knew few people already moving into the team.
There were a few butterflies, but after our first close win, everything aligned and we started making a nice habit.”
Has he experienced any extra pressure because his role is a difficult one that of a finisher.
“You got to control what you can but can't think too much ahead and what will happen. You need to concentrate on your breathing, and if it's in your area you have to do it. It's the last over, so you know no more balls left,” he said.
During a tough job, the Gujarat Titans have not left Miller alone. But there was a careful plan on how to use Miller, and give him the right backing.
GT skipper Hardik Pandya explained it in detail. “He is genuinely a damn good guy. So I was proud to kind of play with him, and enjoy. Simply he is a wonderful guy. I always wanted good things to happen to him. And it kind of shows if you show love and importance to an individual player, he can flourish and how.
“A lot of people counted David Miller out but for us he was always a match-winner from the time we bought him at the auction. What he did today we always expected from him.
“But for us it was important to give him the importance, give him that love and give him the clarity as to what we expect from him. And if he fails, it's okay; it's just a game,” said Pandya in the post-match press conference.