Gujarat Titans take on Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier 1

(Cricket news) The IPL playoffs are about to begin with Qualifier 1 between Gujarat Titans and Rajasthan Royals. The winner of the match will go straight into the finals while the loser will get another opportunity as they will face the winner of the Eliminator for a place in the final. Both GT and RR have had incredible seasons and will be looking to reach the final without the hassle of the 2nd qualifier. The match being at Eden Gardens will bring a different challenge to both the teams.

GT led by new captain Hardik Pandya have surprised everyone with their performances. Initially there were a lot of doubts regarding their squad on paper. The team has fared very well in the tournament so far winning 10 out of 14 games. The only worrying point is that they have lost 3 of their last 5 matches meaning that they are not coming into the playoffs with the best of momentum. Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya, Rashid Khan and Mohammed Shami have been incredible this tournament and they will have to be at their best for the playoffs.

After so many disappointing seasons, Rajasthan Royals are back in the playoffs after 3 seasons. Sanju Samson and Kumar Sangakkara have created a completely balanced side that has had an incredible season. Orange cap holder Jos Buttler and Purple Cap holder Yuzvendra Chahal have been absolutely crucial. Ravichandran Ashwin along with his bowling has also been incredible with the bat. The pace battery of Kuldeep Sen, Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna have wreaked havoc. 

Buttler had an incredible first half of the season but has since dropped off. Tonight will be the perfect time for him to start firing again but he will have the challenge of Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson and Rashid Khan in front of him. The attack of Kuldeep Sen, Trent Boult, Prasidh Krishna, Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin will be very tricky for Gujarat batters to handle. Hardik Pandya will be very crucial, what number he bats at will be interesting to see. Whether Matthew Wade is dropped or given another opportunity will be interesting to see.

The weather is likely to play a huge role as there are heavy rains predicted. According to reports, Qualifier 1, Eliminator and Qualifier 2 results will be determined on a Super Over if there's rain interruption. If no Super Over is also possible then League Stage Table standing will be considered. 

Interesting facts:

– Titans have won all their six chases in the final over – the most by a team in a season in IPL.

– RR used the fewest overs of spin in IPL 2021, and this year, sit on top of the spin charts.

– Chahal is the leading wicket-taker in death overs this season while Rashid is among the most economical bowlers in this phase.

-Miller has had his most productive season since 2013 as ue averages 83.5 against spin, this season.

-Buttler has been dismissed four times by Rashid Khan in seven innings, while managing a strike rate of 60 in the five overs he has played off him. Overall, he has struck at 131.16 in the powerplay.

-Titans have successfully chased down targets six times out of seven. The only instance where they missed out was when Daniel Sams defended nine off the final over for Mumbai Indians.

-Titans' run rate of 11.6 between overs 16-20 in a chase is the highest this season. Essentially, it means they've backed themselves to score big in the final few overs. Royals run rate of 8.3 is the lowest.

-Saha missed the first five games, but since his entry into the season, only Buttler (357 runs) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (333) have scored more than his 312 runs.
Royals are the only team to have three batters (Buttler, Samson, Hetmyer) to have hit 20 plus sixes this season.

-Samson's eight wins after losing tosses is the most for a captain in a season.

Probable XI for GT:

1 Shubman Gill, 2 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3 Matthew Wade, 4 Hardik Pandya (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 Rahul Tewatia, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 R Sai Kishore, 9 Lockie Ferguson, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Yash Dayal

Probable XI for RR:

1 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 2 Jos Buttler, 3 Sanju Samson (capt & wk), 4 Devdutt Padikkal, 5 Riyan Parag, 6 Daryl Mitchell, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Trent Boult, 9 Prasidh Krishna, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Kuldeep Sen

Also read: Takeaways from India's squad for T20I series against South Africa


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