Gujarat Titans winning IPL 2022 on its debut with an inexperienced captain was one of the biggest success stories of Indians sports in the last season. But having ascended the summit without any expectations, Titans will be under pressure to defend the title this season.
In the IPL mini-auction, Titans made some smart buys, the notable ones being Kane Williamson, Shivam Mavi and Odean Smith, to cover all its bases and to prevent any downturn in form. In fact, this season the Gujarat side has a better squad.
Last season, Titans topped the league with 20 points from 10 wins and four losses. They crushed Rajasthan Royals by an identical margin of seven wickets in both Qualifier-1 and final.
Titans’ batting line-up was flexible and it batted deep last season. The presence of big hitting all-rounders and finishers in the lower order stood the team in good stead. Titans will stick to the same game plan this season too.
Captain Hardik Pandya led from the front and topped the batting chart with 487 runs. However, it was the stellar display of David Miller, who enjoyed his best season in IPL with 481 runs, that helped the team to cross the line in some tough chases. The South African will be keen to continue from where he left off. But Miller will miss Titan’s opening match against Chennai Super Kings on March 31 as he will be busy playing the series against the Netherlands.
It was a breakthrough season for Shubman Gill who impressed as an opener. Gill has been in a rich vein of form recently and comes into IPL high on confidence. But Titans will have to find a swashbuckling opener to complement Gill. Matthew Wade and Wriddhiman Saha had varying degrees of success as openers in the last edition and it is one area where the options for Titans are somewhat limited. Sai Sudharsan acquitted himself well in the few games he played.
The calm Williamson will lend stability to the middle-order. Hardik has a bevy of all-rounders — Smith, Jayant Yadav, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar and Sai Kishore — to beef up the lower-order or choose the impact player from.
Mohammed Shami will spearhead Titans’ bowling attack which has left-arm medium-pacer Yash Dayal, the lively Mavi and skiddy Darshan Nalkande in its ranks. Besides, Irish cricketer Josh Little, a bustling left-arm medium-pacer, can surprise the opposition.
The wily Rashid Khan will again be the attacking option for Hardik in the middle-overs. His team-mate and left-arm wrist-spinner Noor Ahmad will lend variety. Left-arm spinner Sai Kishore has a proven record of strangulating the batters in the middle-overs.
But the scheduling has been pretty unkind to Titans who will be travelling a lot this season. Titans play every second match away from home and it could be unnerving for the players. Titans needs to cleverly manage the workload of players. However, playing in front of a huge home crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad could work in the team’s favour.