This afternoon, the top two teams in this year’s regular-season square off at Eden Gardens in Kolkata for the opportunity to go straight into Sunday’s final. For Gujarat Titans, it’s the opportunity to play in front of a capacity home crowd in Ahmedabad. For Rajasthan Royals, this is a chance to pay a perfect tribute to Shane Warne, who led them to their only title in 2008.
We preview this match and provide betting tips and the players to watch.
Titans were written off by many even before a ball was bowled. Their auction strategy was scrutinised. They wondered if Hardik Pandya, fighting his own battles with form and injury, can inspire the new team. One of their openers pulled out of the tournament and their middle order had two rookie batters and an overseas batter who had racked up poor numbers in the previous seasons. Yet, nearly seven weeks later, they became the first team to enter the playoffs.
The fact that the team has not had a standout performer actually highlights their overall strength. Rashid Khan and Mohammad Shami’s 36 combined wickets, alongside Hardik Pandya and David Miller’s combined batting average of 46.70, means that it’s been a team effort. In addition to five different batters top-scoring in a match this season as well as four different bowlers returning the game’s best figures, Gujarat boast an outstanding eight different players to have won a Player of the Match award this season.
Rajasthan Royals were seen by many as ones to watch this year after an excellent mega auction which saw them conduct some excellent business. Sanju Samson’s men have not disappointed, winning nine of their 14 games to finish second place in the league table.
They are the only team in the playoffs that has previously won the IPL, Rajasthan came into the postseason via a somewhat different path to their opponents. Jos Buttler (629 runs) and Yuzvendra Chahal (26 wickets) both lead the league in their respective categories, being well and truly in line for overall tournament MVP status.
Despite Buttler’s lofty standards this year, his performances have definitely been split into two halves. From his first nine innings this season, Buttler had amassed a whopping 566 runs at an average of 70.75. In comparison, across his last five innings, the return has slumped to just 63 runs at an average of 12.60, with the Royals failing to pass 160 runs in three of those five matches. Even his 24-ball 54 against today’s opponents earlier this season was not enough for Rajasthan to avoid a 37-run defeat at DY Patil Stadium.
Each team boasts an outstanding bowling unit and this encounter is expected to be defined by which batting line-up can hold their nerve against such quality bowling opposition. I’m backing the proven track record of Gujarat Titans’ middle-order finishers to play a massive part in this match and help lead the league leaders to the final.
Rashid Khan has enjoyed the best bowling figures of the match in three of Titans’ last four matches.
Royals are the only team to have three batters (Buttler, Samson, Hetmyer) to have hit 20 plus sixes this season.
Three of the past six first-innings totals at Eden Gardens surpassed 200.
Titans’ run rate of 11.6 between overs 16-20 in a chase is the highest this season. Essentially, it means they’ve backed themselves to score big in the final few overs. Royals’ run rate of 8.3 is the lowest.
Yashasvi Jaiswal has been Rajasthan’s top scorer in three of the team’s last four matches.
Jos Buttler has been dismissed four times by Rashid Khan in T20s for just 18 runs from 30 deliveries faced.
Players to Watch
Gujarat batter Matthew Wade has now started 11 IPL innings in his career for a top score of just 30. He has managed to reach double digits in five straight innings but desperately needs to convert. Of the nine innings in which Rajasthan’s Riyan Parag has been dismissed in IPL 2022, he has been out ‘caught’ every time. Seven have been off a fast bowler and the other two from spinners.
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