It is finally time for the playoffs of the Indian Premier League 2022. After a gruelling 74 matches, Gujarat Titans, Rajasthan Royals, Lucknow Super Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore have made it to the final leg of the tournament and have shifted their base to Kolkata after spending two strenuous months in Mumbai.
Hardik Pandya’s Gujarat and Sanju Samson’s Rajasthan finished the group in the top two positions and as a reward they would be playing the Qualifier 1 of the tournament. The biggest and the only achievement of the game is that one bad would not knock you out of the cash-rich league and you live to see another day.
Eden Gardens is set to host the next two matches, and the conditions might be quite different than what was offered in Mumbai. In the league stages several wickets turned out to be two paced which offered a sluggish rhythm to the match, but in Eden Gardens one can expect a proper batting wicket and a little help to the fast bowlers in the early stages of the game.
Kolkata has been hit with thunderstorms in the past couple of days and a brief shower is expected today as well during the match hours. In case the game washed out, Gujarat will move onto the finals of the Indian Premier League 2022.
In case Kolkata is cloudy, the evening breeze might offer a little swing with the new ball, but that generally reduces down after the powerplay to make Eden a batting paradise.
Gujarat Titans dominated the tournament from word go and they got rewarded for the faith they put in their players. Hardik Pandya lost a couple of games at the back end of the tournament, but happened due to experiments which he wanted to try out before getting to the playoffs stage.
Gujarat have a good unit and clear role for their players. They could storm into the finals if they click together in the Qualifiers.
A misfiring Jos Butter is the biggest problem for Rajasthan Royals. The orange cap holder of the tournament has not scored in double digits in the last three games and RR will hope that he has been saving his best for the last.
Rajasthan have found unlikely batting heroes in Ravichandran Ashwin in this tournament and will hope he can lead the team to a resounding victory to make it to their first IPL finals since the inaugural year.
L, W, W, L
W, W, L, W
Hardik Pandya (GT): His first IPL playoffs as a captain, Pandya will have a lot on his plate. His decision making will be key to Gujarat’s performance on the field.
Will he bowl out Rashid Khan early against Jos Buttler; will he be able to hide David Miller from Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravi Ashwin; his operation of Gujarat might turn out to be the most important thing in the evening today.
Take into account that this might be a rain affected game. This makes it all the more important for Pandya to deliver as a player and a captain.
Yuzvendra Chahal (RR): If Eden Gardens offers a flat track, the bowlers that operate in the middle overs will have to come clutch. Rajasthan did exactly that in their last game against Chennai Super Kings when Moeen Ali went berserk from one end inside the powerplay. And who was leading that bowling line-up? Yuzi Chahal. The leg spinner will be key if the likes of Wriddhiman Saha and Shubman Gill give GT a strong start, and his battle against Hardik Pandya should be one to watch out for.
Probable Playing XIs
Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Matthew Wade, Hardik Pandya (c), David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, R Sai Kishore, Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson, Yash Dayal
Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (c, wk), Devdutt Padikkal, Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, R Ashwin, Trent Boult, Obed McCoy, Yuzvendra Chahal, Prasidh Krishna