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Gujarat Titans debutants have edge over Rajasthan Royals in Qualifiers 1

Equipped with a deadly bowling attack and boasting a number of quality finishers, debutants Gujarat Titans will start as favorites against former champions Rajasthan Royals when the two sides face off in Qualifier-I , tuesday.

Captaining an IPL team for the very first time, in-form Hardik Pandya was a revelation this season as he led from the front with bat and ball to secure a first-place finish at his team in the championship phase.

As well as shooting at number 4, Pandya used his resources well, whether it was bowling the death from the crafty Rashid Khan or making his batting exploits count to accompany the fiery duo of David Miller and Rahul Tewatia. Every little thing fell into place. Their weak link was their top hitter with highly rated Shubman Gill, who failed to convert his starts, but the addition of veteran Wriddhiman Saha did wonders for the team.

The abandoned Indian wicket-striker strikes with new passion at the top of the order and scored three half-centuries in nine matches to make up for Gill’s lackluster run. While the Afghan leg spinner was exceptional in the middle and at the death, India’s leading point guard Mohammed Shami gave them perfect starts, being the highest wicket taker (11 wickets) on the power play this season.

Saha, who has been in the headlines since being sacked from the Indian squad, will be looking to make his point as he and his Bengal teammate Shami perform in front of their home crowd once again. The fact that the playoffs will be played on new tracks would stress the seams and Pandya could look to bring in Alzarri Joseph to accompany Lockie Ferguson and Shami.

The Titans had beaten the same opponents by 37 points in the league phase, but the inaugural edition champions have a heavy offense to go with a wealth of experience and they could prove to be a tricky customer. The Titans also looked vulnerable as they suffered three defeats in the last five matches, including an eight-wicket thrashing by Royal Challengers Bangalore in their previous outing, which would mean the Pandya-led side need to step up.

Three of Titan’s four defeats and four of the Royals’ five defeats have come during goal setting, as the draw is also said to be a key concern. The team led by Sanju Samson boast of the holders of the orange and purple caps this season – Jos Buttler and Yuzvendra Chahal.

They also have the experience of Ravichandran Ashwin whose versatility has imposed itself, especially in the second half of the season. Ashwin’s stick also made a huge difference. Hitting at number 5 ahead of their regular hitters Shimron Hetmyer and Riyan Parag against Chennai Super Kings the other day, Ashwin broke an unbeaten 23-ball 40 to script a five-wicket victory which also sealed their top-two ranking. .

But to repeat their IPL 2008 winning show, the Royals would need not just an Ashwin, but the highest shot order. Their top run-getter Buttler has slowed late in the season with single-digit scores — 2, 2, 7 — in his last three outings. The Englishman, who has slammed three centuries and three fifty this season, is yet to score a half-century in five innings and the Royals would be desperate for him to be back among the runs.

Their hitter also crumbled with Samson and Hetmyer losing form and they would be looking to get in on the act before the big game. The fact that the loser of Qualifier One gets a second chance to advance to the final will give both teams some breathing room.


Gujarat Titans: Hardik Pandya (c), Abhinav Manohar, David Miller, Gurkeerat Singh, B Sai Sudharsan, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Matthew Wade, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Wriddhiman Saha, Alzarri Joseph, Darshan Nalkande, Lockie Ferguson, Mohammed Shami, Noor Ahmad, Pradeep Sangwan, Rashid Khan, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Varun Aaron, Yash Dayal.

Rajasthani Royals: Sanju Samson (c), Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Shimron Hetmyer, Devdutt Padikkal, Prasidh Krishna, Yuzvendra Chahal, Riyan Parag, KC Cariappa, Navdeep Saini, Obed McCoy, Anunay Singh, Kuldeep Sen, Karun Nair , Dhruv Jurel, Tejas Baroka, Kuldip Yadav, Shubham Garhwal, James Neesham, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rassie van der Dussen, Daryl Mitchell, Corbin Bosch.

Start of the game at 7:30 p.m.

First post: STI

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