AHMEDABAD: It’s still early days in the IPL
but the teams that finished in the top two last season – Gujarat Titans
and Rajasthan Royals
– have continued from where they left off.
Royals are perched on top of the table with six points from four matches and a healthy net run rate of 1.588 while the Titans are third in the table with the same number of points from four matches, albeit with a lower net run rate of 0.341. So when the defending champions take the field against last season’s runnerup at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday, a cracker of a contest can be expected.
Yashasvi Jaiswal and Jos Buttler have been a formidable opening combination for the Royals and the rest of the batting unit hasn’t got a chance to flex its muscles.
IPL: Rajasthan Royals look for ‘first’ victory against Gujarat Titans
While Jaiswal has hit two fifties and accumulated 135 runs this season at a strike rate of 160.71, the England white-ball captain is striking at a rate of 170 and has mustered 204 runs so far. Titans’ new-ball bowlers Mohammed Shami and Josh Little too have livened up the matches so far with their hostile bowling and how they operate against Jaiswal and Buttler could well decide which way the match is headed.
IPL 2023: Rajasthan Royals want to break jinx against Gujarat Titans
<p>Gujarat Titans, coming off a tough away clash against Punjab Kings in Mohali, would be aiming to climb to the top of the table when they take on leaders Rajasthan Royals in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match here on Sunday.<br /></p>
<p>History is on Hardik Pandya’s side as the team has won all three games against the Royals so far, and that would certainly play on the minds of the Sanju Samson-led Rajasthan outfit at the Narendra Modi Stadium.<br /></p>
<p>Who can forget the Titans’ seven-wicket victory in the IPL 2022 final in only their first year, with Pandya’s side making it a one-sided contest, winning with 11 balls to spare.<br /></p>
<p>The Titans’ victories in the league phase too were an affirmation of the class and commitment of the team, which is currently placed third on the points table with six points — same as Lucknow Super Giants and the Royals, with only net run rate (NRR) separating the sides.<br /></p>
<p>While both the sides are equally matched on the batting and bowling fronts, the psychological edge the Titans enjoy by virtue of the three wins last year could play a huge role in the contest.<br /></p>
<p>While on the other hand, Samson’s side would be keen to break the jinx and show past results don’t matter much.<br /><br /><br /></p>
<p>The Royals’ top order has been one of the most devastating this season with the likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson helping the side to the highest average powerplay score of 66.8 among 10 teams in IPL 2023.<br /></p>
<p>Besides, Buttler’s powerplay strike rate of 196.6 is the best among batters, not to forget that he has scored a whopping 114 runs in those crucial six overs so far. Also Jaiswal’s 92 at a strike rate of 184 in the powerplay overs so far is something the Titans’ won’t take lightly.<br /></p>
<p>With matches being won and lost on the basis of how teams fare in powerplays, another cracking start for Royals on Sunday could earn them their first win against the defending champions.<br /></p>
<p>With the likes of Devdutt Padikkal, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shimron Hetmyer and West Indian all-rounder Jason Holder in the middle order, the Royals bat really deep.<br /></p>
<p>On the bowling front too, the Royals have the second-best economy rate of 7.3 thus far, just behind Royal Challengers Bangalore (6.3).<br /></p>
<p>With all three top spinners — Adam Zampa, Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal — pressed into service in the Royals’ game against Chennai Super Kings, which the last year’s runner-up side won by three runs, it remains to be seen what will be their bowling strategy against the Titans on Sunday.<br /></p>
<p>Royals are now set to face the toughest test of the season, what with the Titans having the likes of skipper Pandya, destructive middle-order batter David Miller, Shubman Gill, Sai Sudarshan and their latest heroes — all-rounder Vijay Shankar and Mohit Sharma in the ranks.<br /></p>
<p>The Titans brought in 34-year-old pacer Mohit in place of Dayal for the clash against Punjab Kings and the defending champions, riding on his bowling figures of 4-0-18-2, won a thriller in Mohali.<br /><br /><br /></p>
While Royals captain Sanju Samson (97 runs from four outings) hasn’t exactly set the tournament on fire with his stroke play, his counterpart Hardik Pandya too has been short of runs.
Pandya, who sat out the defeat against KKR here, returned for the contest against Punjab Kings. His batting hasn’t clicked yet and he has made just 21 runs from three matches.
The use of off-spinner R Ashwin as a floater in the lineup has had limited success but it has increased the depth of the lineup, allowing the likes of West Indies’ Shimron Hetmyer, Dhruv Jurel and allroun- der Jason Holder to use the long handle.
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