Several reports in the media over the last couple of years suggested that the BCCI was planning to add two new teams to the Indian Premier League. The plan finally came together in 2021, when the board announced two new teams that would participate in the league from the 2022 season – Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants.
Ahead of the auction, the Gujarat Titans signed Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya as their captain for Rs 15 crore. Along with Pandya, the two other players they signed in their pre-auction deal were Afghanistan spin sensation Rashid Khan for Rs 15 crore and India opener Shubman Gill for Rs 7 crore.
Much like all teams, the Titans too made some expensive purchases in the auction. New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson was their costliest buy at Rs 10 crore. Their other top picks were Rahul Tewatia for Rs 9 crore and Mohammad Shami for Rs 6.5 crore. Among other players in their ranks are Alzarri Joseph, Matthew Wade, David Miller, Jason Roy, Wriddhiman Saha, Vijay Shankar and Pradeep Sangwan.
Hardik Pandya, Rashid Khan, Shubman Gill, Mohammed Shami, Jason Roy, Lockie Ferguson, Abhinav Sadarangani, Rahul Tewatia, Noor Ahmad, R Sai Kishore, Dominic Drakes, Jayant Yadav, Vijay Shankar, Darshan Nalkande, Yash Dayal, Alzarri Joseph, Pradeep Sangwan, David Miller, Wriddhiman Saha, Matthew Wade, Gurkeerat Singh, Varun Aaron, B Sai Sudharshan.
The greatest strength of the Gujarat Titans lies in their bowling depth. They have some established bowlers in their ranks who bring with them not just experience but form too. The likes of Mohammad Shami, Rashid Khan and Lockie Ferguson are match-winning bowlers.
Shami, one of the best seam bowlers around, has 79 wickets in his IPL career of as many games. Along with that, he brings with him the experience of playing over 150 games for India across formats.
Rashid, on the other hand, needs little elaboration. Considered as one of the most dangerous bowlers in the shortest format, the T20 globetrotter can bamboozle the best of batsmen. Not just that, he can win matches with the bat too, and we have seen this on a few occasions in the IPL.
Ferguson, meanwhile, can rattle the stumps with his speed. In the IPL 2021 final between KKR and CSK, Ferguson bowled the fastest ball in IPL history at a speed of 153.63 kmph. Then there is R Sai Kishore too, who is one of the prolific wicket-takers in Indian domestic cricket.
The side also boasts of power hitters like David Miller, Rashid, Pandya, Tewatia and Rahmanullah Gurbaz, all of whom can accelerate the strike rate.
Although they have a few power hitters in their ranks, the Titans’ top order looks a bit thin on paper. With Jason Roy pulling out of the tournament citing bio bubble fatigue as the reason, the franchise now has to decide who will open with Gill. The other two options are Matthew Wade and Wriddhiman Saha. In all possibility, they will open with Wade, whose strike rate is better than that of Saha. But both of them are not as destructive as Roy would have been. Gill, on the other hand, is known to produce slow-paced innings. As of now, the openers’ slot of the team looks unimpressive.
Who will play at the important no. 3 slot is also confusing. It can be Saha, Vijay Shankar or the uncapped Sadarangani. Neither of the three batsmen are too dependable. A solid top order is important in any format of the game, and as of now, the Titans seem to lack quality in this department.
Predicted playing XI – Shubman Gill, Matthew Wade (wicketkeeper), Vijay Shankar, David Miller, Abhinav Sadarangani, Hardik Pandya (captain), Rahul Tewatia, R Sai Kishore, Rashid Khan, Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson.