IPL 2022: Engrossing top-of-the-table clash on the cards tonight

Both teams’ batting departments have been loaded with in-form batsmen, writes Ayaz Memon

By Ayaz Memon

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KL Rahul of Lucknow Super Giants is in superb form. (BCCI)
KL Rahul of Lucknow Super Giants is in superb form. (BCCI)

Published: Tue 10 May 2022, 1:09 AM

For most of the season so far, Gujarat Titans looked the team to beat. After winning their opening match with a spunky run chase against Lucknow Super Giants, they swiftly moved to the top of the points table. They looked set to become the first team to qualify for the playoffs when things suddenly started going awry last week.

Two successive defeats have kept them at 16 points, tantalisingly close to a place in the last 4. But they are not there yet. The T20 format can be diabolically topsy-turvy, and the Titans are perched on a knife edge.

Meanwhile, Lucknow have moved abreast of the Titans in points, and reached the top position on Net Run Rate on the back of rock-solid performances, winning four matches on the trot.

They may not have matched the Titans for dramatic wins, but using consistency as a virtue, they have gradually emerged as perhaps the best side in the tournament.

Of course, winning the tournament is some while away. With teams like the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Punjab Kings getting a second wind, so to speak and moving up the table, neither GT nor LSG can even take a place in the playoffs for granted. This makes tonight’s match very crucial.

Both are obviously strong teams, as evident from the points they have garnered. Newbies to the IPL, there was some scepticism about how they would fare. But the acumen and astuteness the management of LSG and GT exercised in the mega auction when buying players have brought them rich returns.

On paper, it is difficult to put one team ahead of the other. Both have richness and depth in talent and have been able to put balanced teams on the park in every match.

Early on, it appeared that GT’s top order was wobbly with Matthew Wade not firing and then getting injured. But Wriddhiman Saha, the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman, has been superb with his resourceful and aggressive batting at the top.

Other batsmen for GT include Hardik Pandya, Shubman Gill, and then there is the trio of David Miller, Rahul Tewatia and Rashid Khan who have helped the team snatch quite a few wins from the jaws of defeat.

For all this, GT’s batting is still somewhat behind LSG’s. KL Rahul has been in peerless form, and Quinton de Kock is among the most destructive openers in the game. Deepak Hooda has hit a rich vein of high scores, and after him, they have quality all-rounders Krunal Pandya, Marcus Stoinis and Jason Holder.

Both teams’ batting departments have been loaded with in-form batsmen. With pitches still playing true, the greater onus will be on the bowling attacks of both teams to win the match.

There will be quite a few battles within the war: Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson, Hardik, Rashid on one side, Dushmantha Chameera, Mohsin Khan, Avesh Khan, Ravi Bishnoi, Krunal Pandya, Holder and Stoinis on the other.

This will be a cracker of a contest. Pick a winner at your own risk.

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