Born to win: On Gujarat Titans’ maiden win at IPL 2022

A debutant team winning a trophy is a unique sporting high. Gujarat Titans did precisely that while clinching the Indian Premier League (IPL) title through a clinical display against Rajasthan Royals during Sunday’s final in front of a delirious home crowd at Ahmedabad. Summit clashes, except in rare episodes, can be tepid affairs despite all the hype and the IPL climax dished out a low-scoring tussle on a dry surface. But credit is due to the Titans for remaining the stand-out unit through the tournament that remained anchored in Mumbai and Pune before shifting base to Kolkata and Ahmedabad in the concluding stretch. The league also offered some redemption for all-rounder Hardik Pandya, the Titans’ captain. Often weighed down by injuries and the comparisons with Kapil Dev, Pandya finally turned the corner, leading Titans with finesse, scoring brisk runs and prising out valuable wickets like he did in the final — scalping Jos Buttler, Shimron Hetmyer and Royals’ skipper Sanju Samson. Through the IPL’s long summer, Titans always had consistent performers chipping in without fail. In the final too, players cutting across skill-sets and nationalities excelled, be it spinner Rashid Khan or batters Shubman Gill and David Miller while Hardik too etched a 34. For Royals, there were expectations about the team wresting the cup as a tribute to its first captain, the late Shane Warne.

However, sport does not entirely ride on emotion and Royals stumbled at the last step. But there was no shame as the squad did remarkably well until the final with Buttler leading the run charts, scoring tons almost at will. Royals last won the title during the 2008 inaugural edition and the latest comeback augurs well for Samson’s men. Another debutant unit, Lucknow Super Giants, also performed fine to book a last-four slot. That Titans and Giants stayed the course allayed those fears about a bloated league with 10 teams, throwing up forgettable cricket. Instead it was the established behemoths, former champion Mumbai Indians and defending champion Chennai Super Kings, that ate humble pie and reiterated the surprise factor in sport. India’s blue-chip batters — skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli — had a horror run while the success of rookie speedster Umran Malik, spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and veteran Dinesh Karthik, who blitzed with a strike-rate of 183.33, revealed that hope is intrinsic to the league. In a year that will witness the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, the league was a selection-primer. But a few worries remain and those are centred on the IPL’s commercial heft. The drop in TRPs hints at saturation with the event and the organisers need to find ways to get back viewership. Other than that, the league is here to stay with 10 teams to boot.

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Printable version | Jul 19, 2022 10:10:49 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/born-to-win/article65475635.ece