We are into the Playoffs of IPL 2022 after so much drama and the humongous efforts of the teams that battled for the first four positions in the points table. Of the 10 teams, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Lucknow and RCB made it to the playoffs with their stunning all-round performance. The current edition of the game is into its last leg, now we only have a week left to know who is the title winner.
The Playoffs had begun in style at Eden Gardens on Tuesday. Being the top two teams in the points table, Gujarat and Rajasthan had locked horns in Qualifier 1. As the winner of this match would get a direct ticket to the finals, the battle was expected to be fierce. Gujarat won the toss and decided to bowl first. For the Royals, they had an imperativeness of putting a big score on the board. On the pitch, the story was different as their opening stand was collapsed after the early dismissal of Yashasvi Jaiswal.
Following Jaiswal's dismissal, Jos Buttler and skipper Sanju Samson had delivered a good partnership. Sanju played a cracker of an innings and was dismissed for 47 runs in 26 balls when he was all set for a bigger knock. Buttler was strong and Padikkal gave him ample support. Though others couldn't contribute much, it was Jos Buttler who took his team single-handedly to a competitive total of 188 runs in 20 overs, scoring 89 runs in just 56 balls with 12 fours and 2 sixes. Buttler has been a stellar batter in this IPL series and his classy knock gave hope to the Royals that they can defend the target.
However, as time went by, the chasers Gujarat Titans were resolute to win the direct ticket to the finals. Though Gujarat Titans had endured a terrible start by losing Wriddhiman Saha for 0, the batting line-up had successfully built a winning momentum. Shubman Gill and Mathew Wade came in to the rescue scoring 35 runs each before both were dismissed. It was David Miller and Hardik Pandya for the day for the Gujarat Titans.
The Titans had a captain's knock and a stupendous play from David Miller, who was the rescuer for the Titans in several matches. Their partnership began when their team were in a little bit of trouble losing 3 wickets for 83 runs but there was no looking back. The bowlers of the Royals had never got a wicket after that as both the batsmen put the show on fire. They waited for the right deliveries to hit and showed huge maturity.
When 16 runs were required in the last over, it was 6 6 6 from Miller that took the Gujarat Titans to the finals of this year's IPL, winning this game by 7 wickets. Miller and Pandya were unbeaten on 68 and 40 respectively. Interestingly, Miller had scored only ten runs in his first 14 balls and in another 24 balls, he purchased 58 runs. Mighty Miller was the star of the match and Gujarat Titans, playing their debut IPL, have entered the finals of this series.
Titans had finished first in the points table and they were the first to enter the finals, a huge feat indeed. The newborn team and its captain Hardik Pandya have been rained by wishes from across the country. Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, Pandya said, "I have started to balance things in my life. Has been a constant effort throughout the last couple of years. In the end, my family, my son, my wife, and my brother as well have played a big role. They kind of allowed me to get neutral in life. I look forward to going home and spending some time with family, and that's made me a better cricketer as well."
"Don't have much feeling now. Trying to be neutral again I'll say. All the 23 players are different characters, and bring different things to the table. Was saying to Miller as well, that if you have good people around you, you get good things. It's been that story for us. The kind of people we have, the genuine human beings we have...I genuinely see even the players in the dugout are trying and praying for them to make sure they do well. That is something fantastic and that is the reason we have reached where we have reached. It's all about making sure we respect this game", he added.
Speaking about Rashid Khan, Pandya said that the spinner has been fantastic throughout the season and throughout his cricketing journey. Pandya further said, "I am proud of miller- the way we have played. Wherever my team requires me to play, I don't generally demand where I want to bat. That's not how I have got success. I have got success by playing for the team, no matter how scratchy I look, or how good I look, irrelevant to me. The batting order we have had, we have had to make sure everyone chips in."
Rajasthan Royals are still in the game and the team will be taking on the winner of the Eliminator round - either Lucknow or Bangalore. The Royals are resolute to winning the Qualifier 2 and clinching the title for the second time by repaying the Titans in the finals. Rajasthan Royals skipper Sanju Samson said, "Felt good to put up that kind of total as I felt the wicket was a bit sticky and there was a lot of swing in the powerplay. I think we have managed to put in a good score, but I think they played really well to chase the score down. It was a bit two-paced and the bounce was also not even, I just went after the bowling from ball one and I got a bit lucky to get a few runs in the powerplay, but the wicket was a bit tough to bat on and we finished off really well."
"We have been playing some really good cricket throughout the tournament, a couple of overs here and there, a couple of extra runs, a couple of off-rhythm by a couple of our bowlers, we will try to come back and play some good cricket. In this format luck (the toss) plays a huge role, so it all comes down to what you want to do in your control. Hoping for a good result in the next game", Samson added. Hilariously, after the defeating the Royals, David Miller took to Twitter and wrote, "Sorry #RoyalsFamily." Lucknow and Bangalore will fight today in an Eliminator round, whoever loses the game, would leave the series. Qualifier 2 will see the battle between the Royals and the winner of the Eliminator round. The winner of this game would take on the Titans in the finals on May 29.