Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 188/6 (20) lost to Gujarat Titans 191/3 (19.3) by 7 wickets.

Read play-by-play updates here.

It was a night where the Royals barely put a foot wrong. From Jos Buttler’s fine anchoring, to Sanju Samson’s blitzkrieg to the bowling unit taking the game right down the wire - they did it all. But credit where it’s due, Gujarat Titans brought their chasing prowess to the fore and sealed a deserving win, becoming the first finalists of IPL 2022. 

Once again, the Royals were put in to bat first as Hardik Pandya won the toss and elected to bowl. The wicket looked like it had plenty in it for the batters, but its two-paced nature surfaced as soon as Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal started proceedings. There was some swing on offer, especially in the Powerplay. While Yashasvi fell early, Jos took his time to adapt to the conditions and stayed put right till the end. His gritty half-century, accompanied by some serious hitting from the skipper in the middle overs and Devdutt Padikkal’s late burst guided the Royals to a strong total of 188 on the board. 

The chase began with Trent Boult striking yet again in his first over. Wriddhiman Saha fell for a duck, and it was followed by GT losing both their set batters in Shubman Gill and Matthew Wade inside the first 10 overs. However, their captain and David Miller combined to put up a match-winning partnership. And despite some controlled death bowling from the likes of Obed McCoy and Yuzvendra Chahal, the duo carried GT to the finish line in the final over.

Here are some key moments from the match:

Jos, the anchor. Sanju, the smasher!

He waited, he watched, he prepared and then, he unleashed. It wasn’t the typical Jos Buttler masterclass we’ve seen ever so often, but it is a role that he has revelled in at the top this season. Losing Yashasvi as early as in the second over meant that the talismanic opener had to curb his natural instincts and wait for his opportunity against some quality swing bowling. And then he waited some more, when the captain walked out firing on all cylinders. Sanju Samson started taking the attack to the GT bowlers from the get-go, making his intent crystal-clear. His elegant yet aggressive stroke-play was on display from the first ball that he dispatched for a six to his last, capping off a fiery 47 off 26 deliveries that included five fours, three massive sixes and a 68-run partnership for the second wicket. 

And once Sanju’s blitz ended, Jos took over after adding some crucial partnerships with Devdutt Padikkal and Shimron Hetmyer. It wasn’t until the 17th over that he teed off, scoring 52 runs in his last 18 balls, going after every single bowler in every over leading up to the 20th. His 56-ball 89 gave a much-needed impetus to the Royals’ batting, and was laced with 12 fours and two sixes.

With the skipper continuing his aggressive style of batting and Jos getting back among the runs, things are only looking positive for the Royals as they prepare for their next challenge. 

Boult continues to deliver

Trent Boult’s ability to consistently strike with the new ball and get his team to a strong start is turning out to be one of the biggest positives for the Royals this season. Courtesy of his exploits in the Powerplay, the rest of the bowlers have been able to put the pressure back on the batting side, more often than not. It wasn’t the case against GT this time, but Boult’s returns of 1/38 in his four overs bode well for the Royals going forward. 

Obed, Chahal shine under pressure

Yuzvendra Chahal’s tight spell coupled with Obed McCoy’s stock of slower deliveries meant that the Royals were in the game right until the last over. Chahal gave away four runs in his first over, and followed it up with three more overs that saw him concede just three boundaries. It was at the death that he posed a greater challenge, even for the settled duo Miller and Hardik who couldn’t hit the big shots off him. Obed’s first over got him the important wicket of Wade but also saw him concede quite a few runs. But he came back with a tremendous second burst, including a 7-run penultimate over that gave the Royals 16 runs to defend in the 20th. 

One more match. One more opportunity. The dream is well and truly alive for the Royals, who are known for their valour, especially when the odds are stacked against them. The sun will rise again, and the Royals will be out there, giving it their all, one more time. With plenty of positives from this game, we move on to play the second qualifier on May 27 at Ahmedabad.

What did you think of our performance? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @rajasthanroyals or with me, @arey_yaar