Rajasthan Royals kept the decade-old tradition intact on Friday when they defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore in Qualifier 2 to march into IPL 2022 final. Rajasthan Royals will be facing Gujarat Titans in the summit clash on Sunday in a repeat of Qualifier 1 which they lost.
Since the introduction of the IPL playoffs in 2011, the second-placed team after the round-robin stage have made it to the final every single time. Rajasthan Royals finished second in the IPL 2022 points table with 18 points from 14 games, two points behind leaders Gujarat Titans.
It was also Rajasthan Royals’ second IPL final appearance after 14 years since winning the title in the inaugural season in 2008 under late Shane Warne. Going into the final, Gujarat Titans will be in an advantageous position on paper having won both times against Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2022.
Captain Hardik Pandya led Gujarat Titans from the front in their first meeting against Rajasthan Royals with a 52-ball 87 not out, powering the debutants to a 37-run win. The two teams met once again in Qualifier 1, with Pandya playing another useful knock of 40 not out to steer the team to a seven-wicket win.
While Papa Pandya has proved his mettle against the Royals of Rajasthan in IPL 2022 so far, let’s take a look at some of the other players from both teams to watch out for in the final on Sunday.
# Jos Buttler
The Englishman is irreplaceable. With 824 runs and four centuries to his name so far in IPL 2022, Jos Buttler has been Rajasthan Royals’ batting mainstay all through IPL 2022 and single-handedly took the inaugural champions into the final. Not just the whole IPL 2022, Buttler hasn’t disappointed against Gujarat Titans too despite finishing in losing causes on both occasions. Buttler has scores of 54 (in league stage) and 89 (in Qualifier 1) against Gujarat Titans this season. With a majestic 106 not out against RCB in Qualifier 2, Buttler will be high on confidence when he takes his stance on Sunday in Ahmedabad.
David is seriously the ‘Killer Miller’ in the Gujarat Titans squad. After going unsold in IPL 2022 mega auction, Gujarat Titans acquired the services of David Miller for INR 3 crore and proved his mettle in IPL 2022 scoring 449 runs in 15 games so far and holding the Gujarat middle-order with a best of 94 not out. Against Rajasthan Royals, Miller passed with full marks. If Miller’s 14-ball 31 helped Gujarat Titans those extra runs towards the end en route to their 190-plus score in the league stage, the southpaw’s 38-ball 68 and a 100-plus run stand with Pandya in Qualifier 1 took Gujarat Titans to the final.
Rashid Khan is a star in his own right. He comes, he bowls, he takes wickets at crucial junctures and even sometimes hits the ball out of the fence to give an extra edge over the opposition. With 18 wickets in 15 games, Rashid Khan is Gujarat Titans’ second-highest wicket-taker in IPL 2022. But more than his wickets, what has benefitted Gujarat Titans is his ability to stop runs in the middle-overs. Against Rajasthan Royals, Rashid didn’t get a wicket in both the matches, but his ability to not leak runs between overs 6 to 15 proved to be decisive in both their wins.
Sanju Samson has evolved as a three-dimensional cricketer in IPL 2022. From being Rajasthan Royals’ second-highest run-getter in IPL 2022 with 444 runs to managing his wicketkeeping duties to taking the team to a summit clash, there won’t be a better inspiration in the whole tournament. Against Gujarat Titans in the final on Sunday, Samson will be under the spotlight for his multifaceted role. Can he match legendary and late Shane Warne?
A left-handed pacer is like a diamond to any captain in the world. Yash Dayal is one such piece of diamond for Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya. Bought at a price of INR 3.20 crore, Yash Dayal has been one of the uncapped finds of IPL 2022 having taken 10 wickets from eight games so far. One of the key figures in Gujarat Titans’ squad, Dayal’s strike rate of 17.4 is the best among his seniors like Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson and Rashid Khan. In both the games against Rajasthan Royals, Dayal has given his team early breakthroughs in the powerplay and Pandya would be hoping the same from his young gun on Sunday.