IPL 2023 Gujarat Titans Preview
Here we preview Gujarat Titans chances of defending their IPL title in 2023. It'll certainly be a difficult task to emulate their success in their maiden IPL season as they won 12 of their opening 16 matches including the final. However, the Titans have maintained the core of their squad and made clever purchases in the auction to bolster their already impressive options making them one of the favourites for IPL 2023.
Review of IPL 2022
Batting wise as the below stats suggest, Gujarat Titans were solid if not spectacular. The fact remains though that they had 3 of the top 6 run scorers in the competition meaning that they were not as reliant on 1 or 2 batsmen in the way that most other franchises were.
Shubman Gill had periods where he looked like the high-class player that we know he is and others where he struggled to get his new franchise off to good starts. I still maintain that he is too good a player for this form of cricket but his recent exploits for India show that he is beginning to find the pace of T20 cricket and he will be a massively important player again this season.
However, Gujarat's real strength with the bat came as a result of their middle order and in particular captain Hardik Pandya who lead the scoring with 487 runs and David Miller who has looked reborn of late and averaged 68 with a strike rate of 143 in IPL 2022.
Elsewhere the likes of Rahul Tewatia built on his reputation as a specialist finisher in T20 cricket while Rashid Khan too scored at a strike rate of over 200 as Gujrat found ways of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
With ball in hand, Mohammed Shami was the best operator in the powerplay in IPL 2022 with 11 wickets and an economy of 6.6. That then set the stage nicely for the likes of Rashid Khan to come in and strangle the innings with the Afghan wrist spinner taking 19 wickets at an economy of just over a run a ball.
Gujarat might have hoped for a little more wicket taking power from their overseas quicks and this is very much represented in the stats below. Lockie Ferguson and Alzarri Joseph both performed admirably and were generally tight without having the penetration that they've offered in previous seasons.
Gujarat Titans key stats from IPL 2022
Gujarat Titans IPL 2023 Auction
Having maintained the bulk of their squad, Gujarat Titans had a relatively quiet auction and concentrated their efforts on the gaps highlighted in 2022.
They bought in Kane Williamson at his base price of $240k which looks likely to be a good bit of business. As noted above, the top order was the one area where they struggled for consistancy with experienced players like Matthew Wade and Vijay Shankar not performing. Williamson certainly provides a pedigree that can compete with some of the options that GT already have for a starting role.
Their biggest outlays were both fast bowlers with Shivam Mavi looking like an excellent addition. The 24-year-old has blown hot and cold to date in the IPL with 30 wickets in 32 appearances but made his debut on the international stage earlier this year and has played in all 6 T20i for India in 2023 suggesting that he is finally coming of age following a glittering U-19 career.
Mavi is then joined by Josh Little who is set to become the first Irishman to play in cricket's premier franchise league. The left-armer offers a genuine wicket taking option both up front where he will look to swing the ball and later on with short, hostile bowling.
Little was a net bowler at CSK last season but has gone one better this year having taken a hattrick in the T20 World Cup
Gujarat have also secured back-up options in the form of KS Bharat who'll compete with Saha and Wade for the gloves and Odean Smith who had his moments for Punjab last season but who will need to add consistency to his game if he wishes to break into the Titans starting XI.
Gujarat Titans Predicted XI
Shubman Gill is a sure starter at the top of the order for Gujarat. He hit an unbeaten 126 against New Zealand in India's last T20i having previously stroked a magnificent double hundred in an ODI against the same opposition. He'll probably be somewhat disappointed to have missed out to KL Rahul for the opening birth alongside Rohit Sharma in the current Test side but time is very much on the 23-year-old's side in that regard.
During that hundred against the Kiwis, Gill scored his first 50 from 35 balls before moving through the gears and hitting 76 from his next 28 balls. He was helped by being paired with the ultra-agressive left-hander Ishan Kishan (who failed in that match) and Rahul Tripathi who is also comfortable hitting out early in his innings. This combination undoubtedly allowed Gill to build into the innings. Can GT achieve a similar balance in their top order?
Gill reached the final with KKR in 2021 but it is noticeable that in the last 18 months, his scoring rate in T20 is improving
Matthew Wade had a fairly shocking IPL 2022 with just 157 runs from 10 innings. In the past, he's been an explosive top order player but in recent years he's been converted into a finisher to account for the fact that Australia, like so many teams, have plenty of batsmen who'd prefer to take advantage of the field restrictions and very few who can give it a bash later on.
Kane Williamson would represent a player more in the ilk of Gill who prefers a few deliveries to get going and is a stroke maker rather than a power hitter. While Wriddhiman Saha at 38 has the experience and know how to adapt his game to whatever the Titans require of him.
We also saw that GT have some exciting uncapped talent in their ranks in the form of Sai Sudharsan and Abhinav Manohar. Expect at least one of Sai Sudharsan or Wade to play to give the Titans a left-hand option in the top order while Abhinav Manohar career T20 strike rate is over 150 suggesting that he could be used to get the score board ticking early on.
The middle order pretty much picks itself with Pandya, Miller and Tewatia key to the Titan's IPL title last year. The real question is whether Pandya can stay fit to offer his side that genuine 5th bowling option within the top 5. He has managed to take a full part as a bowler in India's limited overs cricket so far this year and you can bet that the GT management will be keen to wrap him in cotton wool at every opportunity to ensure that remains the case.
Pandya had his most productive season as a batsmen in the IPL including doubling the number 50+ scores he's made in tournament. He also returned his most economical series with the ball having not bowled at all since 2019
Tewatia meanwhile had been the Royals primary spin option for much of IPL 2021 but bowled just 6 very expensive overs last year. Depending on conditions, he may get greater opportunities with the ball this year.
Pandya's bowling also allows GT the option to bring in another all-rounder should they wish and they have the likes of Darshan Nalkande as well as Vijay Shankar. The later has been scoring truck loads of runs in the Ranji trophy but is probably better suited to longer form cricket while the former is a bowling all-rounder and white ball specialist who did feature a couple of times in last season's IPL.
Rashid Khan then offers some explosive and unpredictable hitting late in the innings and is ideally suited to a number 7/8 slot in the team. The number 1 ranked T20i bowler was crucial to GT's success last year but he's had a difficult couple of months on the T20 circuit at least by his usual high standards including an unsuccessful spell as captain of MI Cape Town in the new SA20 league. The Titans will hope that he'll be able to get his mojo back when he returns to the ranks during IPL 2023.
2023 hasn't been that successful for Rashid Khan so far
Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore offers Gujarat a slow left-arm option should conditions favour playing another frontline spinner. He appeared 5 times for the champions last year and looked very economical.
Then comes the plethora of quick options that Gujarat Titans can draw on. Mohammed Shami is a certainty and his brilliant bowling up front where he can move the ball both ways in the air and off the surface should ensure that GT pick-p plenty of powerplay wickets.
After him GT have Pradeep Sangwan who returned after an IPL absence and demonstrated a host of skills that will make him a key asset in this format. Yash Dayal will almost certainly compete with new signing Shivam Mavi or depending on the pitch conditions and balance of the team Gujarat could opt to play both young Indian quicks. Meanwhile Alzarri Joseph and Josh Little will likely go head to head for the final overseas spot, though again because of Gujarat's options towards the top of the order, it's not impossible that both could be accommodated.
Gujarat Titans IPL 2023 Predictions
There is plenty to like about this Gujarat side. Despite not having a massive budget to spend in the auction, they recruited smartly, strengthening in areas that weren't their strong suit in 2022.
In Shubman Gill they have arguably the form white ball batsman of 2023 so far and a player who has scored more runs year on year in each of his 5 IPL seasons to date. If he can continue that trend and smash through the 500 run mark this season then GT will certainly be a force to reckon with and he will be a genuine contender for the Orange Cap.
It would also set up GT's middle order for another big season with Pandya, Miller and Tewatia so influential during their title win last year.
Pandya though is the real key given the balance that he provides the squad. If he remains fit and in form then Gujarat posses not just one of the best T20 batsmen in world cricket but a genuine bowler who can deliver 4 overs in his own right, a resource that gives Pandya as captain significantly greater options than some other franchises.
While wicket taking amongst the fast bowlers was something of an issue last year, there is nothing to suggest that GT can't turn that around in this season's IPL given the resources that they have at their disposal.
All in all then this continues to look like a very well balanced side that should at the very least make it 2 play off appearances in 2.
Predicted finish: 3rd
All stats used in this blog are from my own database which is freely accessible at T20 head to head. Images are my own with the exception of player profiles and background images which are used under a creative commons license or otherwise royalty free
Waiting to see who you are tipping as the favorites.
It’s tough to call in the IPL. There is very little to choose between the squads on paper so it usually comes down to very small margins.
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Hardik Pandya would be a great all rounder in this edition, he has potential and it will likely to expand. Positive a choice made by the team to purchase Williamson in a good costly price, but I guess he would be nice pivot for the squad.
Overall, the team looks a balanced side to me. Hope they would shine in the game comimg forward.
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Pandya’s fitness is key both for Gujarat and for India in the upcoming World Cup
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