Debutant delight!

Following the mega auction before the IPL 2022 season, Gujarat Titans were criticised for not making the right choices. Some pundits believed they had one of the weaker batting units in the competition. Add to that, a new skipper with not much of a proven record at the highest level as a leader. It’s creditable therefore for the Hardik Pandya-led outfit to qualify for the playoffs, the first team to do so in the current season, with two league games in hand.

‘Team effort’ is a term that is used far too often, and far too loosely in team sports, in general. But in the case of Gujarat Titans, it is quite apt to say so, as far as their IPL-15 performance is concerned. They don’t have a batsman who has run away topping the batting charts, none of their batsmen is having a Jos Buttler-like season. But they have opener Shubman Gill in the top three, and with him Pandya in top 10 highest run-getters of the season. They have three batsmen, with David Miller being the third, who have scored over 300 runs this season.

“Once we walked away from the auction, we were pretty pleased with the work we did. A lot has been made about our line-up, and I’m fine with that. People are absolutely entitled to their opinion. But I can assure you, at no stage did we think we had a weakened or a weak batting line-up,” said Vikram Solanki, Director of Cricket for Gujarat Titans after their 62-run win over Lucknow Super Giants at the MCA Stadium here on Tuesday.

All-round show

And it’s not just the volume of runs that matters in the T20 format. Look at the number of games Rahul Tewatia has turned on its head with a little 20 here and a quickfire 30 there. Add to that, a couple of impact knocks Rashid Khan has played in the lower order with his incredible wrist work. And that’s what successful franchises do. They find different match-winners throughout the season.

And we haven’t even started yet about Rashid the bowler. Like in the batting department, Gujarat Titans don’t have someone who is topping the bowling charts. But once again they have a couple of entries in the top-10 wicket-takers. With 15 wickets from 12 games at an extraordinary economy rate of 6.79, Rashid  has choked the opposition in the middle overs. Mohammed Shami, with 16 wickets from 12 games at an economy rate below eight, is the leading wicket-taker for Titans. And despite not having a proven top-class performer to partner Shami with the new ball, Titans have taken 24 wickets in the Powerplay, most by any team in IPL 2022 so far.

Dot ball impact in Powerplay

They have an above 50 per cent dot ball percentage in the Powerplay (223 dot balls out of 432), which hasn’t quite allowed the opposition to run away with the game in the first six overs. At 8.35, they are among top three teams with lowest economy rate in the competition.

“Really proud of the boys. When we started this journey together, we obviously believed in ourselves, but to have qualified before the 14th game is a great effort and I’m really proud of us,” skipper Hardik Pandya told the host broadcaster after the match on Tuesday.

With two games to go, Titans have a chance to equal Rajasthan Royals’ 2008 record for the most number of points (22) in a season. Their quest for that record begins with a game against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

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