Two star-studded teams, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, clash in Qualifier 2 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 in Ahmedabad on Friday. The winners will face Gujarat Titans in the final. As former India head coach Ravi Shastri said, it will be "a battle of Royals". And there will be many player battles.
Both the league matches were dominated by bowlers, with only two batters scoring half-centuries (Jos Buttler's 70 in match 13 and Riyan Parag's 56 in match 39). Expect another intense duel between two well-equipped teams.
With that, here's a look at key battles which will potentially decide the match:
Mohammed Siraj Vs Jos Buttler
Mohammed Siraj, RCB pacer: Nine wickets in 14 matches are not good returns for a premier bowler, but the India pacer is known for giving his all. And he is expected to breathe fire against Rajasthan Royals. On the line of fire will be RR openers.
Jos Buttler, RR batter: He is the leading scorer in IPL 2022. The Englishman has scored 718 runs off 484 balls in 15 matches with three centuries and four fifties. He has hit 68 fours and 39 sixes. A good start against the RCB new-ball bowlers will set the tone for RR.
Josh Hazlewood Vs Sanju Samson
Josh Hazlewood, RCB pacer: He is a gentle giant. The Aussie pacer has a strike rate of 14.16 and has already claimed 18 wickets in 11 outings. The right-arm pacer operates with such conniving accuracy that even the best in the business often surrenders meekly to his ploy. His main role will be to break the RR's backbone. He claimed 2/19, including a maiden, in their previous meeting.
Sanu Samson, RR captain: Throwing caution to the wind! This best defines Samson's approach. But that's mostly down to his team's demands. With an unrivaled range of strokes and power, the skipper is one of the finest. He has scored 421 runs at a strike rate of 150.35. In two previous matches against RCB, Samson was dismissed both times by Wanindu Hasaranga. But a battle against RCB pacers, including Hazlewood would be a mouth-watering prospect
Virat Kohli Vs Trent Boult
Virat Kohli, RCB batter: The legend was dismissed for single-digit scores in the previous two outings against RR. But the former captain remains the biggest player in the RCB ranks. And a king is never late. A good knock in the knock-out will change everything. His 334 runs in 15 matches have come at 23.86.
Trent Boult, RR pacer: By his own standards, the Kiwi pacer is having a lean IPL. His 14 scalps in 14 matches are pedestrian at best. But Boult can strike anytime. Up against a star-studded RCB top-order, Boult's spell will be crucial, especially against a struggling Kohli.
Faf du Plessis vs Ravichandran Ashwin
Faf du Plessis, RCB captain: Leading a new team, that too a star-studded one, Faf du Plessis has done exceedingly well. If he has to achieve what some of the greats in the game have failed to do -- winning IPL for RCB -- the South African will need to bring his A-Game against RR, and hope to have a crack at Gujarat Titans. He has scored 443 runs, and on Friday, the skipper will need to counter a veritable bowling attack featuring the likes of Trent Boult, Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, etc.
Ravichandran Ashwin, RR all-rounder: Underwhelming! One of the premier spinners in the world has struggled to find his mojo in the IPL 2022. Ravichandran Ashwin has got 11 wickets in 14 matches. That's how poor he's been with the ball. But Ashwin is a big match player. RR will rely heavily on his experience.
Shimron Hetmyer vs Wanindu Hasaranga
Shimron Hetmyer, RR batter: He is the designated finisher for Rajasthan Royals. Shimron Hetmyer scored 42 off 31 in their first meeting but got out for just three in the next. After the paternity break, the Windies star will hope to win the IPL title. He has scored 301 runs at a strike rate of 159.25.
Wanindu Hasaranga, RCB spinner: The Sri Lankan spinner has taken the IPL 2022 by storm. 25 wickets with best bowling figures of 18/5 in 53 overs. He is only behind RR's Yuzvendra Chahal, by one wicket in the wicket-takers list. But Hasaranga has a superior strike rate. His four overs can be decisive in Qualifier 2.
Rajat Patidar vs Yuzvendra Chahal
Rajat Patidar, RCB batter: He wasn't even in the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad when IPL 2022 started. Rajat Patidar then became an injury replacement, and in the Eliminator, he rocked. An unbeaten century to push RCB towards their maiden title. But the youngster will have bigger tests against RR.
Yuzvendra Chahal, RR spinner: He is the leading wicket-taker this season. 26 wickets in 15 outings. The wily spinner will be tasked to not only contain RCB batters but also make crucial inroads in middle overs. In the first meeting between these two teams this season, Chahal returned with figures of 2/15. A repeat will be magical.
Then there are other match winners like Devdutt Padikkal, Riyan Parag and Prasidh Krishna for Rajasthan Royals and Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell and Dinesh Karthik for RCB.
RR's playing XI vs RCB in match 39: Jos Buttler, Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson (c & wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, Daryl Mitchell, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Kuldeep Sen, Prasidh Krishna, Yuzvendra Chahal.
RCB's playing XI vs RR in match 39: Faf du Plessis (c), Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Suyash Prabhudessai, Rajat Patidar, Shahbaz Ahmed, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Wanindu Hasaranga, Harshal Patel, Josh Hazlewood, Mohammed Siraj.
Rajasthan Royals: Jos Buttler, Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson (c & wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Karun Nair, Riyan Parag, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Prasidh Krishna, Obed McCoy, Yuzvendra Chahal, James Neesham, Rassie van der Dussen, Navdeep Saini, KC Cariappa, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Daryl Mitchell, Tejas Baroka, Kuldip Yadav, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anunay Singh, Kuldeep Sen, Dhruv Jurel, Shubham Garhwal.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Faf du Plessis (c), Anuj Rawat, Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Suyash Prabhudessai, Shahbaz Ahmed, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Harshal Patel, Wanindu Hasaranga, Josh Hazlewood, Mohammed Siraj, Jason Behrendorff, Mahipal Lomror, Finn Allen, Sherfane Rutherford, Siddarth Kaul, Karn Sharma, David Willey, Chama V Milind, Rajat Patidar, Akash Deep, Aneeshwar Gautam.
The match starts at 7:30 PM IST.