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188/6 (20)
191/3 (19.3)
GT won by 7 wickets
Player of the match: David Miller
 
Right. Post the drama towards the end of the league phases, many have probably forgotten that the Gujarat Titans and the Rajasthan Royals have been two of the three standout teams this IPL season. They climbed to the summit very early and didn’t relinquish their post for large stretches, meaning that a clash between the two, with the winner directly qualifying for the final, just about seems right.

Both teams have plenty of similarities too. They very rarely play without five frontline bowlers and very regularly get the job done. For the Titans, their strength comes from their assortment of bowlers. They have Mohammed Shami to maximise the new ball. Hardik Pandya has been a decent exponent in the powerplay too, with Alzarri Joseph and Lockie Ferguson breaking the game open in the middle overs. Rashid Khan has done his bit throughout the tournament, allowing someone like Yash Dayal to ease into his role.

RR, meanwhile, depend on their spinners to squeeze the game in the middle overs. Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal have been brilliant throughout the season and have complemented each other wonderfully. Prasidh Krishna is capable of bowling in different stages and be just as successful. Trent Boult, after a slightly patchy middle phase, has come into his own lately. The biggest positive, however, has been the emergence of Obed McCoy – a genuine death-bowler who has reduced Boult’s load in particular, towards the end.

Batting wise, the Royals have the luxury of calling upon a certain Jos Buttler. He hasn’t quite been among the runs lately but is still on his own at the top of the run-scoring charts. And if the law of averages is a thing, it means that he is due another sensational innings. Yashasvi Jaiswal has also put his early-season disappointment behind him and alongside Devdutt Padikkal, provides RR with left-handed options. Sanju Samson, despite not putting together many big scores, has been batting beautifully and at a belligerent tempo.

There is still a question mark over whether they are a batter light, especially if their top order fails. But so far, they’ve done just enough to offset it. Gujarat, though, have struggled in that very aspect. At the start of the campaign, Hardik was scoring impactful runs. The runs have reduced in volume and the strike-rate has been a problem lately, however. Shubman Gill has also hit a submerged log and while Wriddhiman Saha has utilized the powerplay, he simply needs more support. David Miller and Rahul Tewatia, too, haven’t produced magic for a fair chunk of games.

So, this game, on the face of it, looks a contest between two very similar sides. RR certainly have more batting firepower but like the Titans, have a few quandaries to solve with respect to their batting depth. Both have irresistible bowling units and if their batters can get them up to a decent score, their bowlers would, more often than not, capitalize on it.

But it is starkly different in that the Gujarat Titans have never been involved in a Qualifier. RR haven’t in recent times either, although they can still recall memories of that stunning inaugural season in 2008. In many ways, this is a game that both teams deserve to play. Yet, a match neither really knows how to approach.

When Tuesday dawns, though, we will have a better idea on what methodology each is adopting. And by the time they are done, one will have made the IPL final – and deservedly so.