Ahmedabad, May 28 (IANS) Former South African captain Graeme Smith and former Indian cricketer Suresh Raina reckon Rajasthan Royals might have a little advantage over Gujarat Titans in the IPL 2022 because the men in pink and blue have already played a game at the iconic Narendra Modi Stadium prior to the summit clash and must have gotten a fair idea of the conditions.
The Hardik Pandya-led side stormed into the IPL 2022 final after beating Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. On the other hand, Sanju Samson-led Rajasthan thrashed Royal Challengers Bangalore by 7 wickets in the Qualifier 2 in Ahmedabad and set up the summit clash with the IPL debutants.
Gujarat Titans lead the head-to-head with two games to love against Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2022. However, both Smith and Raina said that things get different in a high-stake game like finals and there can’t be any favourites.
The former South Africa captain, who was part of the Rajasthan Royals side when they lifted the title during the inaugural edition in 2008, also went on to claim that predicting a winner is tough because the two teams are full of potential match-winners.
“I think the advantage Rajasthan Royals have over Gujarat Titans is that they’ve played a game on this surface. They have got used to the atmosphere, the outfield, the pitch, and the extra bounce,” Smith told Star Sports.
“But I think it’s a one-off game and (in matches like these) if someone from the big players stands up to the occasion and puts up a massive performance, it gives a major boost to the side. Both these teams are laden with potential match-winners which makes the IPL Final most exciting,” he added.
Meanwhile, former Indian cricketer Suresh Raina — who has scored the most runs in the IPL playoffs and won four IPL trophies while playing for CSK — seconded Smith’s opinion. He, however, claimed that Gujarat Titans will be fresh as they’ve had some time to rest while the Royals will be playing their second game in three days.
“I think Gujarat Titans will have a slight edge over Rajasthan Royals in the finals because they’ve had a good rest of four, five days and also due to the tempo they’ve been in this season,” said Raina.
“I believe RR cannot be taken lightly because they are looking in sublime form and if Jos Buttler fires for one last time in this season, then it will be a huge bonus for the team. So it will be an epic clash. Also, the wicket has been brilliant here in Ahmedabad and we’ve seen a lot of strokes from the batters,” he added.
Ahead of the final, Smith also expressed his elation at the prospects of watching two of the best teams this season — Gujarat Titans and Rajasthan Royals — clashing to lift the trophy in front of more than a hundred thousand spectators.
“It’s going to be a great contest. I can’t wait for it and I reckon the crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium will be bigger than what it was in the Qualifier 2. You can imagine that atmosphere and that energy (at this venue) when there will be more than a hundred thousand spectators watching the game,” the former Proteas cricketer said.
“We have two quality teams playing the epic final and two quality bowling units and some high quality batting line-up on both sides. I think we are going to have an immaculate and exciting IPL 2022 final,” he added.