The equation for Royal Challengers Bangalore is simple. Win against Gujarat Titans on Thursday and hope Delhi Capitals lose to Mumbai Indians on Saturday. That's the only way they can make it to the playoffs of IPL 2022.
The task may not be as simple, though. Titans are currently at the top of the points table with ten wins from 13 games. To beat them, Royal Challengers may need one of their big three - Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli and Glenn Maxwell - to play a big innings. They will also hope for Josh Hazlewood to come back strongly after registering figures of 4-0-64-0 against Punjab Kings in their previous game.
Titans, meanwhile, are already assured of a top-of-the-table finish in the league stage. They had a bit of a wobble with back-to-back defeats at the start of the month, but with Shubman Gill and Wriddhiman Saha giving them strong starts and Hardik Pandya resuming bowling duties, they have notched up back-to-back wins since.
Can they further fine-tune their line-up before the playoffs? Yash Dayal has picked up nine wickets from six games but has conceded 9.38 runs per over. Titans could consider replacing him with Pradeep Sangwan, who played three games when Dayal was out with a niggle and picked up three wickets while maintaining an economy rate of 7.22. They also have the option of bringing back Lockie Ferguson for Alzarri Joseph.
Gujarat Titans: 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3 Matthew Wade, 4 Hardik Pandya (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 Rahul Tewatia, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 R Sai Kishore, 9 Lockie Ferguson/Alzarri Joseph, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Pradeep Sangwan/Yash Dayal
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Virat Kohli, 2 Faf du Plessis (capt), 3 Rajat Patidar, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Mahipal Lomror, 6 Shahbaz Ahmed, 7 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 8 Harshal Patel, 9 Wanindu Hasaranga, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Josh Hazlewood
- Titans could save an over or two of Rashid Khan for Dinesh Karthik. Karthik has helped Royal Challengers finish their innings strongly throughout the tournament but Rashid has dismissed him three times in 28 balls across all T20s while conceding only 30 runs.
- Royal Challengers might want to bowl Mohammed Siraj mostly through the middle overs. Siraj has an economy rate of 9.80 in the powerplay this season. At the death, it's 14.75. But he has been one of the most economical bowlers in the middle overs, going for only 6.27 runs per over. Royal Challengers could use him more in that phase, in much the same way Sunrisers Hyderabad do with Umran Malik.
Stats that matter
- Titans have hit the fewest sixes (59) in the tournament but the most fours (210).
- Saha has a strike rate of 138.40 in the powerplay this season. In the middle overs, it drops down to 97.53.
- Dayal has the worst economy rate (10.70) in the powerplay among bowlers who have bowled at least eight overs in that phase in IPL 2022. The second-worst is Joseph at 10.25. Siraj is third on that list.
- Mohammed Shami has dismissed Kohli five times in 60 balls while giving away 80 runs.
- Rahul Tewatia has smashed Harshal Patel for 40 runs off 21 balls without getting out.
- Among batters who have faced at least 50 balls against spin this season, Maxwell has the highest strike rate (200.00).
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo