It will be a battle of contrasts when the Gujarat Titans face up for their final IPL 2022 league game, against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
On the one hand, the Titans have already sealed a top-two spot, and in the most comfortable manner imaginable. On the other, the Royal Challengers, who aren’t assured of a playoff spot even if they win this game and go to 16 points. They could be knocked out after winning too, because their net run-rate is poor.
That is not going to play on the Titans’ minds though. They have built a superb campaign by keeping things simple, executing the basics well, and finding that bit of inspiration without which no successful campaign is complete. Part of focusing on the basics is treating is match as it comes, and not slipping into any complacency, or not relaxing. As teams everywhere say always, winning is a habit, and so is losing. With the play-offs beckoning, there is little danger of the Titans taking their foot off the pedal, even if this match won’t materially affect their chances.
As for the Royal Challengers, they need the two points on offer rather badly, and with as big a win as possible. They’ll be wary of going too hard too soon though, because the points are a little more important than the net run-rate lift.
What’s their form been?
Gujarat Titans have gone from strength to strength, and then onto new strengths. They’ve had answers to nearly every challenge they’ve faced, and been a well-oiled machine. They’ve played with five frontline bowlers, and the combination of their attack has rarely come under the pump. The odd bowler might have had a bad day, but the attack as a whole hasn’t. The batting has functioned almost like a mirror image of their bowling, with the collective standing up.
The Royal Challengers have won two and lost two of their last four games, including a defeat to the Titans. They are coming off another defeat, a comprehensive 54-run beating by Punjab Kings. So far in the tournament, the Royal Challengers have not had that one dominant game where every plan comes off, key players find form together, and the confidence gets a boost.
Titans Trump Card
He’s almost been the quiet performer in a team of stars, but Wriddhiman Saha’s dash at the top of the order has been crucial for the Titans. It has ensured they haven’t fallen too much behind in the powerplay, and Saha has found the perfect time to come into form too: with the middle order given a bit of a breather after a succession of impossible chases. With Saha’s urgency at the top, the equations the likes of David Miller and Rahul Tewatia face are a mite easier. Saha has been striking at 138.4 in IPL 2022 so far in the powerplay – the fourth best powerplay strike rate in the competition, among those who have faced at least 50 balls in the powerplay. And he’s done that at a powerplay average of 95.50. If he can throw the likes of Josh Hazlewood and Mohammed Siraj off their lengths, it will put the Titans in a strong position.