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IPL - Cricket: Royals take on Titans in IPL final

After 73 thrilling matches the Indian Premier League finally reaches its conclusion as tournament debutants Gujarat Titans take on the Rajasthan Royals at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday (15:30).

And it promises to be an emotional occasion for the Royals who are chasing their second IPL crown, having first won it under Shane Warne's leadership in 2008.

These two sides were first and second in the standings with the Titans winning one game more to finish top of the pile and it is equally close in the betting with the Royals priced at 10/11 for victory, while the debutants are 10/11. Gujarat are 10/11 to have the highest opening partnership in the match ahead of the Royals who are 10/11 to make a faster start.

Buttler leads Royals charge

Gujarat sealed their place in the final with a seven-wicket win over the Royals last Tuesday, but Rajasthan made the most of their second chance on Friday when they hammered Royal Challengers Bangalore by seven wickets at the venue of today's final.

Jos Buttler led the way for the Royals in that encounter, continuing his stunning form in the 2022 competition.

Rajasthan shelled out big bucks for the England man and it is fair to say their investment has paid off handsomely.

The big-hitting wicket keeper leads the IPL run scoring charts with 824 runs from 16 matches, smashing an eye-watering 78 fours and 45 sixes in the process. He also heads the MVP rankings for the player of the tournament award, with a hefty score of 375 points, 94 clear of nearest rival Andre Russell.

Friday's qualifying win over Bangalore was rarely in doubt once Buttler got into his stride and he walloped the Royal Challenger bowlers all over the park on his way to an unbeaten 106 from just 60 balls. That knock included ten fours and six sixes at a strike rate of almost 177.

The platform had been laid by an impressive bowling display from Royals pair Prasidh Krishna and Obed McCoy, who took three wickets each to restrict RCB to a below-par total in Ahmedabad.

And Buttler finished it off with the bat for Rajasthan who needed just 18 overs to complete the run chase and they look to have all the ingredients to finish the season in style.

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Bell lauds Buttler talent

The Titans, though, also have the tools in place to make their mark in the final and will fancy their chances of lifting the trophy at the end of their stunning debut campaign.

Gujarat have won more matches than any other side and lost just four times on their way to this decider, while their two meetings with the Royals have yielded two comfortable victories.

How they cope with the pressure of being in the final, though, remains to be seen. It is easily their biggest game of the season and they may wilt in the 39C heat.

Titans in fine form

They certainly have the players to suggest they can handle the occasion when the heat is on on Sunday afternoon.

Hardik Pandya and Davd Miller have done the business with the bat, smashing 453 and 449 runs respectively, while Mohammad Shami and Rashid Khan have taken 37 wickets between them with the ball in hand.

Their last four matches have seen them win by seven wickets, eight wickets, seven wickets and 62 runs with only Mumbai Indians offering any kind of resistance in a five-run defeat at the start of the month.

The Titans can bat deep and you write them off at your peril but their inexperience in this competition combined with the form of Buttler and co gives the Royals an extra edge as they look to exact their revenge.

Added motivation

They will be determined to land the title following the passing of former talisman Warne earlier this year and they look to possess the greater all-round strength required to take them over the line.

Despite having lost to the Titans, Rajasthan will go into the showpiece with confidence on the back of Friday's thumping win. The leader of their assault on the Royal Challengers, Buttler, is obviously one for consideration in the run-scoring markets after equalling the record of centuries in a single IPL season with his fourth on Friday. The World Cup winner is priced at 2/1 to top score for the Royals in the match, while he is on offer at 13/2 to claim the player of the match award.

Given the amount of runs he has scored so far, David Miller looks an attractive price at 11/2 to lead the way with the bat for his side, with Pandya priced at 4/1 the third player of their squad to have passed the 400-run mark, Shubman Gill, on offer at 3/1.

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