Well-oiled Titans primed for long term dominance

After a historic debut season where they went on to become champions Gujarat Titans faced the litmus test this year. A one-season wonder is something they certainly didn’t want to be and their performances ended up showing that they’re anything but that. Like their victorious 2022 campaign, this year was also about creating heroes out of not-so-fancied names under a secure environment. Shubman Gill’s extraordinary season stood out, quite drastically, but the Titans also had a healthy mix of youth and experience, both among their local and overseas players.

Where they finished:Top of the table. Only two teams in the history of the Indian Premier League had successfully defended their title. In just their second season, Gujarat Titans were just one good ball away from doing the unthinkable.

Season at a glance: Having begun the season with successive wins, there was a brief roadblock for the Titans when they lost two of their remaining three games. However, the defending champions were back to their best soon, dominating the league stage thereafter. They were the first side to qualify for the playoffs and looked destined for the crown again but ran into a Chennai Super Kings outfit that had destiny on their side.

Insta moment: Shubman Gill’s century against Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2. Not only was it the greatest innings of this season but it would also find a mention in the top knocks of all-time in tournament history.

Star of the season: Shubman Gill

Who else? To call this Gill’s breakthrough season would be an understatement. He topped the charts with a whopping 890 runs that came at a healthy strike rate of 157.8, studded with three centuries and four fifties. This staggering run tally was also the second-best by a batter ever in an IPL season, second only to Virat Kohli’s 973-run mayhem in 2016.

Most memorable game:The spin-choke heist against Lucknow Super Giants. On a typically slow surface at Ekana Stadium in Lucknow, Gujarat Titans had only mustered 135, largely due to skipper Hardik Pandya’s laboured half-century. In reply, LSG got off to a flier in the powerplay, racing away to 53/0 and despite Kyle Mayers’ wicket, the hosts were on track through skipper KL Rahul and Krunal Pandya. Only 31 were needed off 36 balls with nine wickets in hand and the Titans looked set for their third defeat in four games. Instead, they scripted a sensational turnaround and from then on, were unstoppable in the league stages.

A move that worked:Almost everything GT tried worked, including playing the second wrist spinner in Noor Ahmed. But the best of the lot has to be Mohit Sharma’s inclusion as the designated death bowler. From being a net bowler prior to the season to scripting the ultimate comeback story, Mohit was at the forefront of GT’s success this season. He was exceptional in the death overs throughout and was actually just one good delivery away from getting the Titans to their second title. Mohit ended just a wicket short of being the leading wicket-taker, which is mind-boggling given that he played far fewer matches than Mohammed Shami.

Areas to address before next season

Nothing really. GT have built a squad and environment that are the envy of most IPL sides. A well-rounded bowling attack and a deep batting order with depth in the hitting department are among the many riches GT have. Sai Sudarsan’s emergence as the No.3 batter means that skipper Hardik Pandya can finally move down to number four or below. Making a backup signing or two in any department is the only thing the Titans may ponder but even that isn’t a necessity right now. With a relatively young side, Hardik’s men have it in them to dominate the current decade of the IPL.

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