May 29 - Amidst a record crowd of over 1 lakh (100,000) in attendance at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Rajasthan Royals faced off against Gujarat Titans in the final of IPL 2022. It wasn't the result they would have wanted, (Rajasthan Royals 130/9 lost to Gujarat Titans 133/3 by 7 wickets), but despite ending up as the runners-up, it was a season to remember for the Royals who gave us some nail-biting finishes and unforgettable moments throughout their journey. Let's take a look at some of the biggest highlights from an eventful season for the Men in Pink.
It was a difficult time for everyone at the Royals coming into IPL 2022 after the tragic loss of Shane Warne – their first captain, mentor, leader, and dear friend. He wasn’t just the man who led Rajasthan Royals to become the first IPL champions, but someone who spotted talent way before the world took notice and nurtured it with his unmatched foresight.
Carrying Warnie’s legacy in their hearts and on the field, Rajasthan Royals started off the season strongly, with every member of the team stepping up and delivering in almost every game. As a result, the Royals stormed into the playoffs for the fifth consecutive time in the IPL, finishing in second place on the points table with 18 points. In the first Qualifier, they played against Gujarat Titans (GT) and 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! Despite a solid fight put up by the Royals, GT sealed a deserving win and secured their place in the final.
Things didn’t go their way in Qualifier 1 in Kolkata, but the Royals had another opportunity to grab a spot in the final. In the second Qualifier, they took on Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), where the night began with a pleasant surprise, as Sanju Samson won the toss. A disciplined bowling effort from Samson & co. saw RCB being restricted to 157/8 and a dominating chase meant that the Royals wrapped up a comprehensive 7-wicket win, advancing to the grand finale, where they would once again lock horns with GT.
In the final, things looked promising for the Royals, when Sanju Samson won the toss and elected to bat first on a wicket that appeared dry. However, as the first innings progressed, one could see the ball stopping in its tracks and the outfield being a bit slower, which made it slightly difficult to score. The Royals finished with 130 on the board, probably a few runs short of the target they would have expected to set. The GT batters started off well, and despite losing a few wickets, chased it down convincingly at the start of the 19th over.
A debut to remember
In his first-ever IPL match, pacer Kuldeep Sen bowled a match-winning 20th over to Marcus Stoinis that helped the Royals seal a thrilling win against LSG.
Ashwin retires out
Ravichandran Ashwin ‘retired out’ in the 19th over against LSG so Riyan Parag could come in at the death. The move worked as Riyan’s six was the difference between the two sides, and was lauded by experts who believe it was a landmark moment for the T20 game.
The Yuzi moment
Yuzvendra Chahal’s 4 wickets in an over completely flipped a thrilling game against KKR, setting Rajasthan Royals up for a crucial win. It included the first ever hat-trick and fifer of his IPL career, as well as the trademark ‘Yuzi pose’ as a celebration.
With 36 runs to defend in the last 2 overs against DC, Prasidh Krishna bowled an incredible 19th over, picking an important wicket and conceding zero runs to all but securing the win.
Riyan Parag’s first fifty of the season came against RCB at a tricky time when most other batters were back in the hut. His 56* helped them post a fighting total, win the game and also earned him the ‘Player of the Match’ award.
Yashasvi’s second coming
Having sat out a few games earlier in the season, young Yashasvi Jaiswal marked his return with a blistering fifty that helped the Royals cruise to victory in a big chase against PBKS.
Ashwin’s saving act
In the Royals’ last league match against CSK, the batter in Ravichandran Ashwin stepped up to finish the game under pressure, securing a top-two finish – their pre-season target.
A Jos special in Ahmedabad
Jos Buttler’s unbeaten hundred in Qualifier 2 helped the Royals dominate RCB and sealed their first IPL final spot in 14 years, in style.