Equipped with a lethal bowling attack and boasting a number of quality finishers, debutants Gujarat Titans will start as favourites against spin-heavy former champions Rajasthan Royals when the two teams face-off in the first IPL 2022 Qualifier 1, in Kolkata on Tuesday (May 24). Captaining a team in the IPL for the first time ever, a fit-again Hardik Pandya has been a revelation this season as he led from the front with both bat and ball to ensure a top finish for his team in the league stage.
Apart from firing at number 4, Pandya has used his resources well, be it the death bowling of wily Rashid Khan or making his batting exploits count to go alongside the fiery duo of David Miller and Rahul Tewatia. Every little thing has fallen in place. Their weak link was their top-order batting with highly-rated Shubman Gill failing to convert his starts but the addition of veteran Wriddhiman Saha has done wonders for the team.
The discarded India wicketkeeper-batter is batting with a new-found passion at the top of the order and has scored three half-centuries in nine matches to make up for Gill’s lacklustre run. While the Afghan leg-spinner has been outstanding in the middle and death overs, India senior pacer Mohammed Shami has given them perfect starts, by being the highest wicket-taker (11 wickets) in the powerplay this season.
Saha, who has been making headlines since he was axed for Team India, will look to make a point as he along with Bengal teammate Shami play in front of their home crowd again. The fact that the playoffs will be played on fresh tracks would put the seamers in focus and Pandya may look to bring in Alzarri Joseph to go alongside Lockie Ferguson and Shami.
The Sanju Samson-led outfit boast of both the Orange and Purple Cap holders this season – Jos Buttler and Yuzvendra Chahal. They also have the experience of Ravichandran Ashwin whose versatility has come to the fore especially in the second-half of the season. Ashwin’s batting has also made a huge difference.
Gujarat Titans vs Rajasthan Royals, Qualifier 1
Venue: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Date & Time: May 24th at 7:30 PM IST
Live Streaming: Star Sports Network, Star Gold and Disney+Hotstar
GT vs RR Dream 11 Prediction
Wicketkeeper: Jos Buttler, Wriddhiman Saha
Batters: David Miller, Devdutt Padikkal, Yashasvi Jaiswal
All-rounders: Ravichandran Ashwin, Hardik Pandya
Bowlers: Yuzvendra Chahal, Trent Boult, Rashid Khan, Obed McCoy
Captain: Jos Buttler
Vice-Captain: Hardik Pandya
GT vs RR Probable Playing XI
Gujarat Titans: Wriddhiman Saha, Shubman Gill, Matthew Wade (wk), Hardik Pandya (c), David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Lockie Ferguson, Yash Dayal, Mohammed Shami.
Rajasthan Royals: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson (c & wk), Devdutt Padikkal, Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Prasidh Krishna, Yuzvendra Chahal, Obed McCoy.