Gujarat Titans: Riding on a winning wave

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Hardik Pandya has been phenomenal in IPL 2022

IPL

Gujarat Titans: Riding on a winning wave

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Nishad Bapat

04/25/2022

Gujarat Titans have been unstoppable on their debut IPL season, losing just one game out of the seven matches and sitting at the top of the points table. There have been several questions regarding the future of the team but they have responded by being a dominant force in the tournament so far.

League cricket has been emerging in recent years and several international stars participate in the leagues around the world. IPL is undoubtedly the best league around the world in terms of popularity and quality. IPL 2022 was scheduled to start on March 26 but there were going to be numerous changes in the teams. The reason behind that was the mega auction and also the tournament was going to be a 10-team affair. 

Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans were the two new entrants in the league of the veteran clubs. For someone new to enter in competition with the experienced teams always gets tough. The newcomers needed time to adapt to the conditions and recognise the opponents' strengths and weaknesses. When the inaugural season was played in 2008, the format was new and the league cricket was new for every franchise. The winner was going to be unpredictable. However, in 2022 it was going to be a tough task for GT to compete with the best and beat champions teams like MI and CSK.

The old franchises were given the option of retentions while these two new teams were given an opportunity to get players through draft ahead of the mega auction. Gujarat Titans pulled off the best picks from the lot. They first bought Hardik Pandya for Rs 15 Crores and also announced him to be the captain of the team in the upcoming season. Rashid Khan was the next pick for the same amount and with his signing, they acquired the services of a world-class spinner. 

They picked an emerging Indian batter as the third choice. Shubhman Gill was bought by the franchise for Rs 7 Crore and the opening spot was secured. These three retentions were good and the team was ready to rock the next season. They also strengthened their side in the mega auction going for quality players like Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson, and David Miller. With the addition of Shami, Ferguson, and Alzarri Joseph the bowling unit was very strong. Also, Hardik Pandya pulled out an unexpected move for the opposition, He was himself bowling full four overs and in the powerplay. However, there were questions about his captaincy as he doesn’t have prior experience of leading one side. It was a possibility that his decisions can go wrong for the team with his lack of experience in captaincy.

Also, the batting unit of the team had a lack of firepower in the lower order and the onus to give a solid finish was going to be on the shoulders of Hardik Pandya. David Miller was there but his record in the IPL has been average in recent years. However, Pandya has led the team well so far in the tournament and the role of the players was optimised in a different way. GT boasts one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament currently and four of the bowlers are irreplaceable. Mohammed Shami wreaks havoc with the new ball when there is assistance on the pitch. Pandya also displayed his brilliant decision-making skills when he gave Shami three overs in the powerplay as he was on fire with his seam movement. Although, the injury seems to be affecting Pandya again and he avoided bowling in the last game but he has been a quality powerplay bowler for the team. He is getting seam movement and also bowling around 140 KPH. Lockie Ferguson has rapid pace to his and he provides wickets for the team. 

Ferguson might leak runs sometimes due to his premium pace but he has a knack for taking wickets and can also trouble batters who struggle against short-pitched deliveries. He has picked nine wickets from seven matches at an economy of 8.32. Rashid Khan is the frontline spinner of the team. Rashid has managed to scalp eight wickets and also the batters don’t take risks against him. He has an impressive economy of 6.50 which is a great figure in the modern era. 

Hardik Pandya’s all-around role has been vital for the team. He has perfectly led from the front with his performance for the team and is the highest run-scorer for them. Pandya has scored 295 runs from six matches at 73.75 and a strike rate of 136.57. He has also scored three half-centuries and been playing the anchor role of the team. Shubhman Gill hasn’t been consistent this season. Travis Head was out of form and so Pandya had a responsibility to anchor the innings for the team. He has been instrumental in helping the team get to decent totals. David Miller’s stats in IPL aren’t very good in recent years. 

Miller has scored 124 runs from eight innings in 2021 and 213 runs in 10 innings in 2019. So, there was doubt over his form in the ongoing season. However, he regained his rhythm with his knock against Chennai Super Kings. He pulled off an impossible chase at one stage with unbeaten 94 runs from 51 balls. He is now looking in good touch and can provide clinical finishes for the team. 

Overall, the rotation of the bowlers by Pandya has been incredible. He has led the team from the front with his performance and that has worked for the team. GT have turned the tables in their debut season by topping the points table at the stage while champion teams like Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians are placed at the bottom. GT would like to script a tale just like what Rajasthan Royals did in 2008 and win their maiden title.

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