IPL 2022: Titans against Royals could provide explosive cricket

Rajasthan and Gujarat have undoubtedly been the most exciting and entertaining teams so far this season

By Ayaz Memon

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Kuldeep  Sen of Rajasthan Royals. — BCCI
Kuldeep Sen of Rajasthan Royals. — BCCI

Published: Wed 13 Apr 2022, 11:46 PM

Last updated: Wed 13 Apr 2022, 11:49 PM

After winning their first three matches with flair and style, new entrants to the IPL Gujarat Titans hit a road bump when they were beaten by Sunrisers Hyderabad a few days back. This was an unexpected result. The weakest team in the tournament had cut the ground from under the strongest. While upheavals and upsets are not uncommon in this format, an eight-wicket defeat is not easily rationalised, raising the question whether the Titans were running out of steam already.

Where did it go wrong for GT? The batting could hardly be faulted. Though runs were hard to come by as SRH’s bowlers gave little away, a score of 162, while not intimidating, looked sufficient to defend for a bowling attack that boasts Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson and Hardik Pandya, the redoubtable Rashid Khan and maverick all-rounder Rahul Tewatia.

However, they could pick up only two wickets as SRH romped home at a canter.

The surprise result opened up the race for top honours on the points table even further, which should add more excitement to the tournament, going ahead. But it also left the Titans exposed, and other teams in the tournament will start fancying their chances against them. One of these is current table toppers Rajasthan Royals, who GT face on Thursday night. RR have also been a bit up and down, losing to Royal Challengers Bangalore by four wickets after two wins. But they recovered splendidly to get the better of Lucknow Super Giants by just three runs in their previous match, staving off a late and brutal assault by Aussie all-rounder Marcus Stonis.

The margin of victory was narrow, but the highlight was how rookie Kuldeep Sen held his nerve and bowled the last over with skill and courage against the seasoned Stoinis. In past seasons, RR were guilty of profligacy and ended up losing quite a few close contests. This year, they have played with their usual panache and elan, but have also shown also greater responsibility and desire to win.

The team is flush with talent in batting and bowling, and can be very difficult to contain on their day. Jos Buttler, sole centurion this season, is among the top five T20 batsmen in the world. There is no more exhilarating batsman to watch than Sanju Samson on song, especially when he is playing back-foot strokes.

More homegrown young batting talent comes in the form of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Devdutt Padikkal. West Indian young gun Shimron Hetmyer has added exciting Caribbean flair and winning edge to the batting. His blazing half-century against Lucknow was stellar.

RR have looked extremely strong in bowling too. Trent Boult, Prasidh Krishna and Sen have formed a wonderful pace trio. Veterans R Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal complete the bowling department, and there aren’t two better spinners than them around in the IPL. RR have also been tactically alert, and willing for radical improvisation if it serves a purpose.

Against Lucknow, R Ashwin retired from batting because he was struggling to get the ball off the square. This allowed Hetmyer more strike in the slog overs and helped get the extra runs and made victory possible.

So far this season, RR and GT have undoubtedly been the most exciting and entertaining teams. This match could provide explosive cricket on the DY Patil Stadium ground with its flat track and short boundaries, where batsmen have revelled and tall scores have been common. The toss could be decisive.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

Players To Watch Out For:

GT: Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya, Rashid Khan

RR: Jos Buttler, Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal

Key Contests: Hardik Pandya vs Yuzvendra Chahal, Trent Boult v Shubman Gill

X Factor: Rahul Tewatia (GT)

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