The final grid for the season is out, with four teams securing their spots in the playoffs. The table-toppers Gujarat Titans and second-placed Rajasthan Royals battle each other in Qualifier 1 while third-placed LSG will compete against RCB. The two teams will meet in the Eliminator at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on May 25.
The Super Giants have been outstanding in their debut season, winning nine out of 14 group matches. However, they missed out on the top two finish by a narrow margin due to an inferior net run-rate of 0.251 compared to the Royals’ 0.298. Which means they now have to win three matches in a row if they are to win the title.
In their most recent fixture, LSG claimed a 2-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in a spectacular battle. Quinton de Kock played one of the best knocks in the history of the league, smashing 140* off 70 as they posted 210 for no loss. Kolkata Knight Riders came out swinging and LSG bowlers found it hard to contain the runflow barring Mohsin Khan’s 3 for 20. With three required off two balls, Evin Lewis pulled off an incredible catch to turn the game in Lucknow’s favour while Marcus Stoinis did the rest on the last ball.
Bangalore, meanwhile, didn’t have an ideal season, having to depend on other results to get into the playoffs. They won eight out of their 14 group matches but their negative net run-rate of -0.253 meant they had to rely on Mumbai Indians to defeat Delhi Capitals in the last group fixture.
The Royal Challengers are coming off an eight-wicket win over Gujarat Titans in their previous fixture. Wanindu Hasaranga and Glenn Maxwell combined to return two for 53 in eight overs as RCB restricted the Titans to 168/5. Virat Kohli returned to form with a terrific 73 off 54 while Faf du Plessis and Maxwell scored 40s to chase down the target with eight balls to spare.
LSG have a huge challenge ahead of them as they have lost all their games against the three other teams in the playoffs. In their clash against RCB, they were defeated by 18 runs earlier this season.
Virat Kohli is a different beast when he’s in his own groove, something that we witnessed in the last game. He has had a difficult time in the IPL 2022 but was outstanding against the Titans, scoring 73 off 54. Virat has a pretty good record for RCB, having scored over 7000 runs at an average of 36.5 and strike rate of 130.4.
One of the best T20 openers in world cricket, LSG captain KL Rahul has had a mixed season in the IPL 2022 and yet has scored 537 runs at an average of 49 and strike rate of 135. Rahul has scored two hundreds and three fifties in the tournament. He averages 76 against RCB and will be a key player in this contest.
Wanindu Hasaranga is a skillful wrist spinner and has been magnificent for the Royal Challengers in the ongoing season. The leg-spinner has broken the games on multiple occasions, picking 24 wickets from 14 matches in the tournament. He has conceded at 7.38 rpo and has best figures of 5 for 18.
Mohsin Khan has been mighty impressive in the IPL 2022. The left arm pacer has found swing up front and bowled well in the end overs too. Mohsin has only played eight games in the tournament but has scalped 13 wickets at an exceptional economy of 5.93 rpo. Mohsin will be crucial for LSG against RCB’s top order.
LSG have a pretty good bowling attack, comprising Avesh Khan, Mohsin Khan, Ravi Bishnoi, Jason Holder and Dushmantha Chameera. Dropping Chameera in the last game didn’t work out for them and must have learnt the lesson. Their batting unit is highly dependent on the top three of Rahul, de Kock and Deepak Hooda. They would hope Stoinis steps up in this important clash.
RCB batting unit has come into its own with the likes of Kohli, du Plessis and Maxwell finding form at the right time while Dinesh Karthik continues to be excellent down the order. Bangalore leaving out Mohammed Siraj for Siddharth Kaul was a questionable call. Their rest of the attack looks pretty good, comprising Hasaranga, Maxwell, Harshal Patel and Josh Hazlewood.
Overall, the ‘Ee sala cup namde’ army looks a significantly more all-round side. And as such, expect RCB to emerge victorious on Wednesday.