If Lockie Ferguson, Rahul Tewatia, Mohammad Shami, Yash Dayal and David Miller are your five most expensive picks in the Indian Premier League auction, then it would be difficult to say that you have knocked the ball out of the park. And that is exactly the case with the Gujarat Titans.
They had great retentions – Hardik Pandya (if fit and in form) is a force to be reckoned with, Shubman Gill is one for the future and Rashid Khan is the most feared spinner around. But it almost feels like they missed a chance to get even stronger in the auction as perhaps Lucknow did.
It is not a completely ‘doom and gloom’ scenario and there are some interesting picks too. R Sai Kishore may finally have his moment after being a domestic workhorse, Tewatia may find consistency, Ferguson and Vijay Shankar may stay fit, Jason Roy may be at his destructive best too but it just feels like there are a bit too many ‘may’s’ there.
Ashish Nehra knows his domestic cricket well and he will hope to get the most out of the contingent of homegrown players he has built at Gujarat for their first season.
Players signed up by Gujarat Titans
|Full name||Price (Rs cr)||Times over base price||Country||State Association||Age||Specialism||2021 Team||C/U/A||Base|
|Lockie Ferguson||10.00||5.00||New Zealand||30||BOWLER||KKR||Capped||200|
|David Miller||3.00||3.00||South Africa||32||BATSMAN||RR||Capped||100|
|R. Sai Kishore||3.00||15.00||India||TNCA||25||BOWLER||CSK||Uncapped||20|
|Alzarri Joseph||2.40||3.20||West Indies||25||BOWLER||Capped||75|
|Dominic Drakes||1.10||1.47||West Indies||24||ALL-ROUNDER||CSK||Capped||75|
|B. Sai Sudharsan||0.20||1.00||India||TNCA||20||ALL-ROUNDER||Uncapped||20|
Possible Best Playing XI
Gujarat’s probable starting XI doesn’t look bad. An explosive opener in Roy, a steady one in Gill but they do lack a little depth in batting. Miller hasn’t been in great form in recent years and Vijay Shankar isn’t exactly the kind of batter who operates at a high strike-rate. So it will be interesting to see what the top-order looks like. From a finishing perspective, Hardik’s form will be key and they will hope that Tewatia can come to the party as often as possible. The bowling looks more sorted. Rashid is class and if Shami can get them early wickets, Ferguson can return the favour at the death.
Gujarat Titans squad and best likely XI
|GT||Price (Rs cr)||Overseas|
|9||R Sai Kishore||3|
|18||B. Sai Sudharsan||0.2|
Jason Roy, at the top of the order, is a match-winner. He will give Gujarat quick starts and that should allow Gill time to settle in. And should allow them to set up the innings pretty well for the rest of the line-up.
Pandya’s batting is a big plus. There is no Indian finisher like him and if he is bowling, he will lend the team a natural balance. The ability to hit sixes can change the game and that is what Pandya does.
Abhinav Manohar Sadarangani has made some waves on the domestic circuit and many teams were interested in him but it is Gujarat that has got him. They have signed him for Rs 2.6 crores and they will want to make sure they get value for their money.
On the bowling front, Rashid Khan will lead the attack. His four overs are gold. The opposition rarely goes after him and that means the skipper only ever really has to worry about the other 16 overs.
Yash Dayal might be a surprise package for them and the opponents too. The left-armer gets bounce and movement at a decent pace and he could find himself getting some decent game time.
They have good back-ups for most positions and that should help them in cases of injuries or even some time off in the bubble.
The lack of absolute star power. Hardik isn’t exactly the big star at the moment. He has had his issues with injuries and in case, those issues resurface, Gujarat will be in trouble. They don’t have a clear replacement.
Most of the other teams have at least a couple of players who are representing India, if not more, and Gujarat seems to have missed a trick here. They look a little light in that department.
Gill is the one closest to breaking through but he hasn’t exactly looked at home in T20s. His strike-rate wasn’t great and he struggled to keep hitting the big shots. He will need to change that this year.
Miller has shown in the past that he can be a great finisher but he struggles against spin and most teams have used that against him. His recent IPL form hasn’t been great either.
On the bowling, do they have the quality to support Rashid? Ferguson is quick and he takes wickets but he can go for plenty as well. Shami hasn’t always hit his straps in T20 cricket too.
Who’s saying what
Gujarat Titans head coach Ashish Nehra to India Today: “If he (Hardik) bowls, it’s great. But to be very honest, we are more than happy to have Hardik Pandya as a pure batsman. I don’t see any T20 team in the world, not talking just about the IPL, where Hardik doesn’t fit as a batsman. Whatever number he bats, be it 4 or 5 or 6. Yes, there is always speculation around his bowling. If he can bowl for Gujarat Titans, that will be great. But yes, if he is only batting fit, I will be happy with Hardik Pandya.”
Gujarat Titans spin bowling coach Aashish Kapoor to ANI: “This time we went aggressively for Tewatia because if you see the Indian batters then most of the sides the eight sides have retained most of the Indian batters. So, you had very few options of the side who could have played in the middle order and playing in the middle order is not a very easy thing. Be it an Indian batter or a foreign batter. There are very few of them. If you see any batter, Indian batter even though he is a Ranji Trophy player say, Rahul Tripathi, he has gone for 9 crores, Shahrukh Khan he has gone for 8-9 crore, Manish Pandey who is not very young now but he is playing Ranji Trophy he has gone for about 5 crores. So, there was no batter who was going for less than 5-6 crore in any case. As you said about the exploits of Tewatia, Tewatia is not just a batter he can bowl you those four overs of spin which is very crucial. You can play one spinner less on a good wicket if you want to play an extra batter with Tewatia around. So, that was the extra option that Tewatia gives compared to the other batter. We did go for Shahrukh Khan and we did go for other batter but it was impossible to get because they were going for 8-9 and Tewatia was cheaper compared to them doing two jobs. He is a multi-dimensional player. So, that’s the reason why we had to go aggressively because he was the last of those Indian batters we felt actually that we had to get.”