With 74 out of the 75 matches scheduled for IPL 2022 having been played, it is now down to two sides debutants Gujarat Titans (GT) and a resurgent Rajasthan Royals (RR) to fight it out in the final, scheduled for Sunday, May 29. It has been quite a ride for both the teams, but they have overcome almost everything that came their way, and now deservedly will clash for the lucrative winners’ cheque, come Sunday. As for the other who made it to the elimination rounds, the emotions will be a little different. Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) would likely shrug, and say, “oh well, we gave it a good go. There is always next year”. But Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will have nothing to say at all.

The year 2022 was being touted as RCB’s year for long, not least because of all the tempestuous happenings around their former skipper and superstar Virat Kohli. Most of the IPL 2022 campaign was spent by the fans stressing about Kohli’s form and three golden ducks did little to alleviate the gloom.

But then he got one decent score, and it was almost like RCB had already won the title.

Wasn’t to be. They did a super job against LSG in the Eliminator, but it was Rajat Patidar and not the stars who made the difference. Even so, they struggled to defend a massive total and the writing, while quite on the wall, was ignored.

Nowhere to hide in Qualifier 2. Jos Buttler has been giving nightmares to all bowlers in IPL 2022 and RCB, once again, were not going to escape his wrath.

But prior to that, the vaunted RCB stars once more went up in smoke and it was left to Patidar to put some sort of total on the board, as even the normally pugnacious Dinesh Karthik too failed.

And once Buttler got going, it was quite a cakewalk. As for GT, they made the most of their finishing as table toppers to put it past RR when it mattered the most. They overcame the threatening stand between Buttler and Sanju Samson and with a spell of fine spin bowling from Rashid Khan leading the way, they ensured that RR didn’t get as many as they would have hoped.

Then came the job of getting those 188 runs and David Miller’s hammer blows on the RR bowling sealed the deal after some good work from Shubman Gill, Matthew Wade and skipper Hardik Pandya.

Somehow, the script doesn’t end unless you again go back to RCB. One wonders what this side will need to ever win the IPL. Would it be a case of that one elusive title that the likes of Kohli will strive for all through their careers and never achieve? With the way things are going, that doesn’t look like such an impossible situation.

Anyhow, they are now gone. Cut to GT and RR, once more. The fireworks await.

(This article was first published on india.com)