Gujarat Titans v Rajasthan Royals
Tuesday May 24th, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Titans tie it up at the top
Gujarat Titans were the first team to qualify for the playoffs and they finished top of the table despite losing their final game to RCB. That loss could potentially hurt their momentum, but it was a very positive campaign overall with ten wins from 14 games.
Skipper Hardik Pandya led from the front with a healthy 413 runs at an average of 41.30 coming into this phase. Batting back up has come with less consistency but Shubman Gill, Wridhhiman Saha and others have contributed when necessary.
Gujarat possess a diverse and effective bowling attack with Rashid Khan and Mohammad Shami sharing 36 wickets in the group stages. Both have an outside chance of claiming the Purple Cap, but the Titans would probably need to play three more games in this tournament for either to succeed.
Royals snatch second place
Rajasthan Royals left it late but victory in their final group game against CSK saw them snatch second place ahead of Lucknow. The Royals were driven in the early stages by Jos Buttler whose three centuries put him in with a genuine chance of being the first player to pass 1,000 runs in a single IPL season.
Buttler's form dipped and he would now need three more centuries if he were to achieve that milestone. For a while, his fellow batters struggled to deliver when he wasn't scoring the majority of the team's runs. It's been a disappointing competition for Sanju Samson up to now but there have been telling contributions from Yashasvi Jaiswal in recent matches.
The bowling attack has been led by Yuzvendra Chahal who still edges the Purple Cap race. It's another area where the Royals have been relying on one man to an extent and there needs to be a collective response from the rest of the bowlers on Tuesday.
Breaking new ground in Kolkata
After Mumbai and Pune hosted the group stages of IPL 15, the first two playoff games will take place in Kolkata. Eden Gardens has traditionally been one of the higher scoring grounds at the IPL but that may not be the case on Tuesday.
This year's competition has been mercifully free of weather interruptions but there has been some rain around Kolkata and more is forecast. Conditions could affect the toss and, potentially, team selection for this first qualifier.
Early odds for this first qualifier put the Titans ahead and Hardik Pandya's men are favourites for the win at 1.845/6. Rajasthan Royals are very much the outsiders at 2.186/5.
While we can't make predictions based on weather forecasts, that toss could be pivotal to Tuesday's game. Teams like to insert in any event, but this will definitely be a day to field first and restrict the opposition to around 160 - 170.
In the regular season, the teams met just once. Match 24 saw Gujarat Titans take the points after Hardik Pandya's unbeaten 87 set up a 37-run victory.
If we ignore the potential for Duckworth Lewis Stern, I would edge towards the Titans here. Rajasthan have some momentum and other players are finally stepping forward. Gujarat, however, are more powerful as a collective unit.
I'd be more comfortable waiting for that toss but the Titans are my tentative pre-match pick.
Back captain Hardik to steer the ship
A clutch of players can be claimed at 4/1 to be the Titans' top batter but Hardik Pandya has the bigger appeal. He's top scored on multiple occasions and his mature leadership has been just as impressive as his batting.
I'm backing Hardik to rise to another big occasion and he's my recommended bet. Shubman Gill is boosted on the sportsbook to 7/2 while the other batters at that 4/1 figure are David Miller and Wriddhiman Saha.
The fact that Jos Buttler has been quiet in recent weeks is the big worry. I wouldn't usually take a third tip but he's due a score and Buttler at a price boost of 11/4 on the sportsbook is tough to turn down.
Alternatively, you can look at the #OddsOnThat section where Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Sanju Samson to all hit a six looks tempting at 7/2.