Jos Buttler hit his fourth century of the 2022 Indian Premier League to lead Rajasthan Royals into the final as they beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by seven wickets at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Saturday.
Royals will face Gujarat Titans in the final on Sunday. Here are the four player battles Gujarat Titans needs to ace against Rajasthan Royals on Sunday.
The trump card: Gujarat Titans' leg-spinner Rashid Khan will be its biggest weapon when it takes the field against the Royals on Sunday. Against the same opposition, in Qualifier 1, Rashid finished with 4-0-15-0 while troubling them with his wrong'uns and pace. At his post-match press conference, Hardik Pandya, Gujarat Titans' captain, had said this when asked about Rashid's impact. "When I give him the ball, I just relax and let him do his magic." Rashid has 18 wickets in 15 matches at an economy rate of under seven. His match-up with the Royals batters, who have the best run-rate (8.50) against spin in IPL-15, could have a telling impact on the game.
The PowerPlay expert: Incidentally, both Royals and Titans have taken most wickets in the first six overs this year - 26. Titans though have Mohammed Shami, who has 11 wickets in this phase, most by any bowler this season. They've also come at an economy rate of 6.57. Shami's battle with Royals' in-form opener Jos Buttler could decide the course of the game.
The finishers: The mercurial Rahul Tewatia and flamboyant David Miller have been instrumental in closing games for the Titans with the bat. Miller, in particular, has had his best IPL run since 2013. Against the Royals, in Qualifier 1, he went 6, 6, 6 in the final over bowled by Prasidh Krishna as Titans chased down 16 runs and waltzed into the final. Miller vs Prasidh should be a delectable watch.
Hardik Pandya, the captain: More than Hardik the bowler or the middle-order batter, it is Hardik the captain that has emerged as one of the biggest surprises of IPL 2022. Not only has he taken the new ball on numerous occasions, he has also created a new role for himself with the bat at No. 3. Hardik’s field awareness and bowling changes have been on the mark. In the contest against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 23, he asked the pacers to use the short-ball ploy while defending a total of 156 as Titans won by eight runs. Hardik will hope for a dream finish to his debut season as captain.
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