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 take on Gujarat Titans in the final on Sunday. Here are the four player battles Rajasthan Royals needs to ace against Gujarat Titans on Sunday.
Buttler mania: Jos Buttler, the current Orane Cap holder with 824 runs, will pose the biggest threat to Gujarat Titans on Sunday. He has four centuries in IPL 2022, the joint-most for any player in a T20 series or tournament. Virat Kohli also scored four centuries during the 2016 edition of the IPL. Buttler’s hundred against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Qualifier 2 is only the second in an IPL playoff match while chasing. Chennai Super Kings’ Shane Watson scored an unbeaten 117 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2018 final. It is also the first century for Rajasthan Royals in an IPL playoff match. Buttler’s ability to accelerate the scoring rate without taking too many undue risks and take down the opposition’s best bowlers set him apart. His knock against the Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 1, though in a losing cause, was the perfect example. He had trudged to 30 off 31 at one stage but finished on 89 off 56. Royals hammered 64 off the last five overs with Buttler alone hitting 52. That should keep the Gujarat bowlers on their toes.
Trial by pace: Prasidh Krishna and Obed McCoy picked up three wickets each to restrict Royal Challengers to 157 for 8 in the second Qualifier. On a pitch that offered extra bounce and movement in the air and off the surface, the Royals’ pace duo got good purchase from a good length and short of good length deliveries. Prasidh bowled an impressive 19th over during which he removed the in-form Dinesh Karthik off the first ball and then clean bowled Wanindu Hasaranga with a yorker. This was after Prasidh, in his first over, had Virat Kohli nicking behind. McCoy and Prasidh, in the company of Yuzvendra Chahal, conceded only 25 off the last four overs. Their match-up with Gujarat Titans’ finishers, who have been going at 10.82 runs per over from 17-20, could de decisive.
Spin trouble: Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin went for 76 runs in their combined eight overs against RCB in Qualifier 2 and took just one wicket. However, against Gujarat Titans, which has the third-worst run rate against spin this season (7.76), Chahal and Ashwin’s role in the middle overs becomes doubly important. Chahal, tied with Wanindu Hasaranga (26) for most wickets this IPL, will also look to take hold of the Purple Cap and reaffirm his status as one of IPL-15’s most influential performers.
Leading from the front: Sanju Samson’s 55 off 27 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad has been his highest score in IPL 2022 so far. There has been a smattering of 30s and 40s but the Royals captain is yet to light up the stage the way one knows he can. However, that won’t stop the Titans from being wary of the right-hander. Samson has been severe against spin this season, striking at 160 in 14 innings while being dismissed six times. His match-up with Titans’ Rashid Khan and R Sai Kishore could dictate the tone of RR’s innings and ultimately its fate on Sunday.