This has been a season to remember for David Miller. The South African batting ace has amassed 449 runs in this edition of the Indian Premier League - featuring for the new team Gujarat Titans.
While he has anchored the team’s middle-order, Miller’s biggest moment in the tournament came earlier this week when he hit Rajasthan Royals’ Prasidh Krishna for three consecutive sixes in the first qualifier in Kolkata and guided the Titans to the final.
Hardik: Miller is always a match-winner for us
And ahead of Sunday’s final against the Royals, Miller admits that so far in the tournament, he has been able to perform well against the spinners. “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,” Miller said in an interaction.
The moniker ‘Killer Miller’ now suits the South African batter, who has been able to punish the top spinners. But behind the success, there has been proper planning.
“And over 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 a bad ball I am in a good position to put it away for a four or six, it creates a bit of pressure on the bowler. So that is one of the things mentally I have tried to improve,” he explained.
“This season, 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. Really enjoyed that and the environment has a big part to play in all our performances,” Miller stated.
Miller was part of the Rajasthan Royals outfit in the previous two editions, but could not cement his place. But this time, under the leadership of Hardik Pandya, the Titans have been able to bank on the experience of Miller and he has delivered.
Hardik Pandya, the captain, shows the way for Gujarat Titans
“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,” Miller said.
“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. I had to go back and work on my game and just try to find a way to get it going,” he added.
In those times of crisis, he backed himself and never lost hope.
“I have been 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 winning games. That has been a standout to me this season. 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 place where having played for 12 years in the IPL, I have been playing 14 years professional cricket, so I should know game by know, I am in place I am enjoying taking on certain roles and challenges and loving being part of this successful team…”
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After spending two months in Maharashtra and playing a lone match in Kolkata, Miller is excited to be back at Titans’ ‘home’ - the Narendra Modi Stadium. “I haven’t been to the ground. I wasn’t at the camp beforehand. I have never seen the stadium, have seen pictures of it and I don’t know what the wicket is like, we have a training session tomorrow,” he said on Friday.
“We haven’t got together as a team and chat about all the things that we are going to do, we hadn’t had any meetings yet, it is couple of days out, we would be getting together and sort of formulising something and chatting about what we have done well in this campaign and what we need to do for next game,” Miller said, “It is difficult to say about the conditions other than it is going to be 1,20,000 people at the stadium…”
It has been a stellar season for the Titan batting ace and ‘Killer Miller’ hopes to keep the momentum going!