Some call it Gujarat titans luck while others call it the synergy of players. Despite losing their last match against Punjab Kings by 8 wickets, Gujarat Titans are placed comfortably at the top of the points table in this IPL. At this point, winning 8 out of 10 matches, including some improbable escapes, feel surreal. In this article let us try to explore the recipe for success of one of the latest teams in the IPL.

Auction

It is said that a good beginning is half done and in the case of franchise cricket, the auction is that beginning. As it provides options of caliber to play on the field. Before the auction, Gujarat had already signed Hardik Pandya as the captain for the franchise, and an impactful opener Shubman Gill along with mysterious leg-spinner Rashid Khan. At the time of the auction, they bought some valuable players like Shami for around 6 Crore, Lockie for 10 Crore, and David Miller for 3 crores. They surprised everyone when they were constantly raising their bid for the last IPL sensation, Rahul Tewatia, and surprised, even more, when they ended up paying 9 crores for an Indian domestic batting-all-rounder. Other players like Saha, Vijay Shankar, Sangwan, and Abhinav Manohar were decent buys, to say the least.

They bought Vijay Solanki, an English player as director of cricket, Gary Kristen, India’s coach for the 2011 ODI  World Cup, as batting coach, and Indian pacer Ashish Nehra as bowling coach.

Post-auction, the team did not look as strong on paper but the supporting staff had a remarkable experience in coaching and managing franchise. With 4-5 big names, it was how does the team execute on the ground and utilize each player’s abilities to their maximum.

It begins

Gujarat Titans started their IPL journey by winning their opening match against their fellow-debutant Lucknow Super Giants without much struggle. The Bowling side of the Titans restricted the Lucknow side below 160 in a stadium like Wankhede thanks to the bowling skills of promising Shami. While chasing such a target, Titans did have low points during the match but ultimately they won by five wickets to kick start their journey. The first match was not just a fluke but turned out to be an action to be replayed game after game. After the first match, it was clear that Hardik Pandya has a bigger role to play in the match and they don’t regret buying Rahul Tewatia for such a huge price.

Like Bollywood movies, this team of Gujarat Titans started showing its true color, though different in every situation, when they had a hattrick of winning in their first three games.

What worked?

Usually, it is easier to point out mistakes and blame than to figure out what worked. Initially, that was the feeling when Gujarat was on a winning streak. It was not a single player or bunch of players who have contributed immensely to the wins but the entire team has performed well.

Bowling Side: Their bowling department looked strong since the auction with Shami, a class Indian pacer, Lockie Ferguson, known for his speed and line, and Rashid, one of the most economical bowlers in IPL in years on their side. Their bowling team is built around these three premium bowlers and they have managed to pick wickets at crucial moments and restrict the opposition at rather low totals.  Shami bowls in powerplay and attacks to draw blood while Rashid bowls in middle-overs to annoy the batsman with his variations. Lockie is a class death bowler and with Hardik himself bowling at 140+ speed, their bowling side performed up to the expectations.

Batting Side:

Since the auction, their batting side was a topic of worry, if not for the team, at least for the fans. Shubman Gill had performed well for Kolkata Knight Riders in the past but his opening partner was yet to be picked. In their middle order apart from Pandya and Miller, they did not have many experienced batters. Even Hardik Pandya was away from his international career for quite some time due to injury and Miller had not performed up to his reputation in IPL so far. Mathew wade, despite having an international cricket career, was yet to make his mark in the Indian Premier League. Rahul Tewatia as finisher had played a couple of match-turning innings except on Tewatia-Nights, but he failed to perform consistently. Abhinav Manohar and Sudharshan are newbies to expect much. In short, they started their tournament with a rather flexible batting line-up and even their playing 11 has been changing as the tournament progressed but with every change, they looked more stable.

The performance:

It would be wise to say that Gujarat Titans is full of Plan-B executors. Unlike teams like RR who rely on players like Buttler for their total, Gujarat has put their eggs in different baskets. If we look at the stats after the 10th Matches of Gujarat Titans, their skipper Hardik Pandya has scored maximum runs for the team and is yet far from the purple cap. Another major contribution came from Shubman Gill, with 94 as the highest score,  but in total, he has scored 269 runs in 10 matches.  Each and every batman, including the likes of Saha has performed exceptionally well for the team. In the last match against Punjab, Sudharashan scored his maiden fifty to join the company of performers.

From the bowling side, it has been an exceptional performance so far. Their lead wicket-taker Shami, with 15 wickets in 10 matches, has taken more than half the wickets during power-play to put the batting side under pressure. Lockie in death overs, with his speed varying from 130 to 150 is as economical as it can get. Rashid, like always, is economical during middle overs and ends up picking wickets when batsman tries to hit him. 

1+1 = 11

This metaphor is apt for Gujarat Titans’ performance in IPL 2022 so far. They have won matches when 12 of the last 2 balls were required and Tewatia ended up doing what he is known for doing, hitting sixes back to back. Or in their match against RCB where Rashid Khan stepped up to hit three sixes in the last over and scored 30+ runs in just 11 balls. Every match has a new hero, who comes forward and takes the team home.

Hardik Pandya

Before the beginning of this season, Hardik Pandya’s comeback to the Indian Side was rather questionable. Switching from an established franchise like MI to a new franchise like Gujarat gave him an opportunity to implement what he has learned so far and built a strong foundation. As it turns out, like Virat Kohli, captaincy and responsibilities associated are bringing the best out of him. Since the beginning of this season, His bowling, batting, fielding, and above all attitude on the field have been exceptional. He has played a bigger role than an all-rounder for the team and is leading by example.

In the inaugural year of IPL, Rajasthan Royals were underdogs and ended up winning the title. Having won 8 out of 10 matches, can we say Gujarat Titans are on the track of repeating history?

Shrikant Chitlangya

Lawyer by profession and a cricket enthusiast by heart. Presently living in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Loves to play cricket as wicket-keeper batsman, talk about cricket and write about cricket in his free time....

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