Puno, May 11: It’s been a fairytale entry into the IPL 2022 playoffs for newcomers Gujarat Titans, who weren’t given much of a chance by critics after the mega-auction in February this year.
The Hardik Pandya-led Titans qualified with two league games remaining, defeating the Lucknow Super Giants by a massive 62 runs in what was one of the most dominant displays of this season as they defended a meager total.
Defending just 144, built largely on the efforts of undefeated young Shubman Gill 63, the Titans’ self-confidence was key as they restricted opponents to just 82, with spinner Rashid Khan accounting for four wickets and the likes of Yash Dayal and Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore taking two wickets each.
Gill admitted that not many people had given the team many chances at the start of the season.
“It feels great. Going into the season, not a lot of people gave us a lot of chances. Not a lot of people thought we’d qualify. But here we are, sitting on top of the table. It feels pretty good,” Gill said. the player of the match.
The team that has grown accustomed to coming back from the dead, is now set to get two chances to qualify for the IPL 2022 Finals on its debut.
After the IPL mega auctions, people pointed to the Titans hitting. While the bowling looked fairly orderly, the batting looked weak, with David Miller’s relative lack of runs in recent IPLs and Gill’s patchy form a concern.
Also, Rahul Tewatia hadn’t done much since his impact tackles in Sharjah a few seasons ago. People hadn’t seen skipper Hardik Pandya play until he came into the tournament with an elevated batting stance and rejuvenated bowling.
“To be totally honest, when we came out of the auction, we didn’t think in the slightest that we had a weak batting lineup,” team manager Vikram Solanki said after the Titans’ big win over LSG.
“Once we got out of the auction, we were very pleased with the job we did. A lot has been done on our lineup, and I agree with that. People have every right to have their say. But I can assure you, in At no point did we think we had a weakened or weak batting lineup.” The Titans knew what they were doing when they signed Pandya, spinner Rashid Khan and Gill, a potent core around whom the team could revolve. The team then harnessed the potential of relatively inexperienced young players to bring out the best in them.
On top of that, Pandya’s captaincy has been the underestimated factor. Even while defending just 144, the guys never lost sight of the win, working meticulously to corner LSG for a big win.
“Really, very proud of the boys,” Pandya said after the match. “When we started this journey together, I don’t think … obviously we believed in our team, we believed in ourselves, but before Game 14 came we qualified, it’s a great effort and we’re very proud of ourselves.”