Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

Gujarat Titans Team Preview IPL 2023: Hardik Pandya’s Team Ready To Defend Title, But ‘reserves’ Need To Step Up

Gujarat Titans Team Preview IPL 2023: Hardik Pandya's Team Ready To Defend Title, But 'reserves' Need To Step UpGujarat Titans Team Preview IPL 2023: Hardik Pandya's Team Ready To Defend Title, But 'reserves' Need To Step Up

Gujarat Titans Team Preview IPL 2023: In a marathon tournament like IPL, where squad depth is paramount, the form of the Gujarat Titans ‘reserves” will determine whether they make it to the top again

That’s a real bull’s eye! The Gujarat Titans lived up to their name by winning the Indian Premier League (IPL) in their very first season last year. In doing so, they emulated the late Shane Warne’s Rajasthan Royals, who had won the first edition of the tournament in 2008.

All-rounder Hardik Pandya, who played for five-time champions Mumbai Indians, was bought by the new Gujarat franchise before the start of the 2022 season. He not only took his form from Mumbai Indians to his new franchise but was also impressed with his captaincy skills, which was a pleasant surprise and added another aspect to his already strong skills as a batsman, bowler, and fielder.

“We were all surprised. Who would have thought Hardik Pandya would have such success as captain at IPL? Just the way he leads the team in a long season. Just the way he performed as a leader was surprising. Considering that he is now bowling and doing well on the field, this is the right time to reward Hardik with leadership qualities,” Sanjay Manjrekar, who has evolved from cricketer to commentator, told ESPNCricinfo.
What really sets Pandya apart as captain is his calm and level-headed way of handling situations, much like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who Pandya admits has played a “big role” in his life.

Pandya’s young teammates have vouched for him. “Hardik and Mahi bhai (MS Dhoni) are quite similar in the way they do things, they are both quite calm,” said Sai Kishore, who played under both Dhoni and Pandya. Pacer Shivam Mavi, who joined the franchise this year, also spoke about Pandya’s support when he started playing for the national team.

What also helps the Titans this year is the fact that they made some smart purchases in the mini-auction late last year. They bought former Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson, Odean Smith from West Indies, and veteran Mohit Sharma from IPL at their base prices. For Mavi, Indian wicketkeeper KS Bharat and Irish bowler Josh Little, the Titans spent more than the base price.

Williamson, in particular, is a great addition to the team. The New Zealander’s 2,101 runs at an average of 36.22 and a strike rate of 126.03 are impressive. He can be the ideal opener or number 3 and is a good anchor for players like Pandya, David Miller, and Shubman Gill. He can also accelerate as needed without making a single rushed shot.

The fact that Gill is going through a purple patch lately will be a real boon for the Titans, and Miller’s powerful hitting is always something to watch out for.

The bowling is in good hands with Mohammad Shami and Alzarri Joseph, the best bowler (6/12) in an inning in the IPL, and Rashid Khan. Rahul Tewatia, R. Sai Kishore, and Jayant Yadav are important members of the support team.

Gujarat Titans Team Preview IPL 2023

So the Titans have the right team to emulate the Mumbai Indians and win two trophies in a doubleheader. However, in a marathon tournament like IPL, where the depth of the squad is of utmost importance, it will depend on how the Titans do in their ‘reserves’. Players like Abhinav Manohar, Noor Ahmad, Pradeep Sangwan, Mohit Sharma, Vijay Shankar, Sai Sudharsan, and KS Bharat will have to be at their best if they are to be used as injury cover, strategic replacements, or ‘build-up” players.

Playing in front of a million spectators at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium and having Gujarat’s favorite son Hardik Pandya leading a Gujarat-based franchise is an added advantage.

How they fared last time

Not only did the Titans win the title in their first season, but they also did so with aplomb rarely seen. They topped the points table, winning all but four of their 14 games and beating every team at least once except Mumbai Indians. The Titans met their captain’s former franchise only once last season and lost. Other than that, their record was pretty spotless. The Titans also came through the knockout rounds with flying colors, defeating the Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in both the preliminary round and the final.

Gill, Pandya, Miller, and Rashid were the standout players last season. Gill impressed with a 59-ball 96 against Punjab Kings, 46-ball 84 against Delhi Capitals, 36-ball 52 against Mumbai Indians, and 49-ball 63 against Lucknow Super Giants.

The most important players to watch out for

Hardik Pandya: The Titans captain is a good all-rounder and an excellent fielder. Last season, he was fourth on the list of best run-setters with 487 runs in 15 innings. He also took eight wickets. Pandya also enjoyed success for five-time champions Mumbai Indians, where he formed a partnership with his elder brother Krunal. In his 107 career matches so far in the IPL, Pandya has scored 1,963 runs at a strike rate of 147.59 and picked 50 wickets. Pandya is an asset to any team and a proven match-winner.

Rashid Khan: The crafty Afghan leg-spinner is a global superstar and has made a name for himself not only in the IPL but also in other major T20 leagues around the world such as the Big Bash League and Pakistan Super League. In the PSL, he was the third-highest wicket-taker with 20 victims in 11 matches and played a big part in Lahore Qalandars’ title win. Rashid is not a great ball spinner and focuses on a line of the wicket to wicket. His main strengths are his speed in the air and his vicious googly hitting right-hander. Rashid can also hit long balls and is very good for the lower order.

Shubman Gill: Since December 2022, he has scored six centuries in all three formats of international cricket, including a double hundred. His ODI double century made him the youngest player to achieve the feat. Gill had a rollicking time last season at IPL, where he scored 483 runs at a strike rate of 132.33. That ranked him fifth on the all-time runs-scored list last year. If Gill can get his team off to a quick start, the Titans will usually do well.

David Miller: The South African power hitter finished sixth on the all-time run-getters list last year with 481 runs, just behind teammates Pandya and Gill. Miller holds the record for the third fastest century in IPL history after scoring 101 runs off 38 balls for former Kings XI Punjab against Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2013. When he gets going, Miller can take the game out of the opponent’s hands in just a few overs. However, he will miss the Titans’ first match due to international commitments.

Strongest Playing XI

Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shubman Gill, Kane Williamson, Hardik Pandya(c), David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Mohit Sharma, Jayant Yadav, Alzarri Joseph, Mohammad Shami

Full Squad

Hardik Pandya(c), Alzarri Joseph, Abhinav Manohar, Mohammed Shami, Noor Ahmad, Rashid Khan, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Pradeep Sangwan, Mohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tewatia, Kane Williamson, Yash Dayal, Jayant Yadav, Matthew Wade, Odean Smith, Shivam Mavi, Vijay Shankar, Sai Sudharsan, Wriddhiman Saha, Urvil Patel, Darshan Nalkande, David Miller, Josh Little and KS Bharat.

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