What Gujarat Titans did to Mumbai Indians on Tuesday (April 25) is similar to what they have been doing to every single team since their arrival in the Indian Premier League.
There’s a sort of template Gujarat follow. They start on a ‘boring’ note, and as an opposition, you feel you are right there in the game, but then comes that brutal finish, and they end up winning the game. Hardik Pandya and Co. keep defying logic but do that with a certain amount of logic.
Well, this is how they go about their business: have an average powerplay with the bat, don’t lose too many wickets in the middle overs and then go berserk at the death. And then comes their bowling, unarguably the best in the competition.
Mohammed Shami and Pandya take wickets with the new ball before Rashid Khan dominates the middle phase. By the time you enter the final phase, there’s not much left in the game. If their batting picks up in the death overs, Gujarat’s bowling is largely about controlling the first two phases.
Look at what happened against MI. The Titans were 50/1 at the end of the powerplay, with 17 coming off the final over. They got 63 in the next eight overs before going gung-ho in the final six overs. Thanks to David Miller (22-ball 46), Abhinav Manohar (21-ball 42) and Rahul Tewatia (5-ball 20*), Gujarat smoked 94 runs in the last six overs. MI’s colourless death bowling made things even more easier.
Mumbai’s bowling has been terrible but their batting is still solid. However, chasing a target of 208 against Gujarat’s bowling line-up was always going to be difficult. They lost Rohit Sharma and could hardly score in the powerplay. When Mumbai did decide to take the attack to GT, Rashid (2/27) and Noor Ahmad (3/37) dismantled them in the middle overs and killed the game then and there.
Guess what, almost the exact same thing has been happening since last year. There have been a couple of results that haven’t gone in their favour but GT still have the best win percentage (73.9%) since 2022. There must be a reason why they have won 17 of their 23 encounters. That number gets even more ridiculous while chasing - winning 11 out of 12.
Now, let’s try to break down their approach in the batting department. The Titans have operated at an average of 35.5 and a scoring rate of 8 in the powerplay since IPL 2022. Those are mid-level numbers but they always make sure they don’t lose too many wickets. Wriddhiman Saha (SR 135.2 in powerplay) plays the role of an aggressor, while Shubman Gill (127.8) anchors the innings.
Saha often gets out by the time the powerplay ends and that’s when Gill takes over, as his SR shoots up to 140.6 in the middle overs. In IPL since 2022, GT have the second-worst scoring rate (7.7) in this phase but have lost the least number of wickets (45), giving them the best average (35.5) and balls/wicket (27.6).
The aforementioned graphic will tell you how they approach their batting. If you compare their numbers with the other nine teams, Gujarat have scored lesser runs in the first two phases but have also lost fewer wickets. And, that has allowed them to dominate the death overs. Their average runs (51.7) scored in this phase is 4.6 higher than the other teams (47.1).
Their scoring rate of 11 at the death is the best amongst all teams since 2022. Moreover, they have also lost the least number of wickets in this phase. This is the phase where Miller (SR 167.5), Tewatia (182.1) and Rashid (232.6) are at their absolute best. Only Shimron Hetmyer has got more runs than Miller in the death overs since last year. Meanwhile, Rashid has the best strike rate amongst batters who have scored at least 100 runs in the last five overs.
Now let’s talk about their bowling. The Titans have the best average (27.5) and balls/wicket (21.8) and the second-best economy rate (7.6) in the first six overs since 2022. Amongst bowlers who have bowled at least 30 overs in the powerplay in the aforementioned time frame, Shami has the best economy rate (6.6) and average (22.9).
No other bowler has picked up more powerplay wickets than Shami. Meanwhile, Pandya’s economy of 5.8 (18 overs) is also among the best. The two were once again lethal against Mumbai, allowing them to score only 26 runs in the first five overs.
In the middle phase, you have Rashid operating at an economy of just 6.8. The leg-spinner has claimed the fifth-most number of wickets in middle overs and now has some company in Noor Ahmad. In just three IPL games, the left-arm wrist-spinner has claimed six wickets at a strike rate of 10.33, giving GT another wicket-taking option.
Gujarat’s numbers (ER 9.4, Average 15.7 and SR 10) at the death are also the best. They don’t just have an all-round attack but their bowling line-up is better than some of the international teams’ attack. The addition of Mohit Sharma has been a revelation, while Shami and Rashid have excelled across all three phases.
On top of that, you have a captain like Pandya who is not just confident but is also an astute reader of the game. He doesn’t hesitate to make tough decisions if it benefits the team. From dropping Sai Sudharsan to picking Noor Ahmad over Alzarri Joseph, Pandya has been a situation-based leader. Tonight, with Cameron Green and Tim David in the middle, Pandya bowled out his spinners and got rid of them before bringing on his fifth bowling option.
“That has been my motto, always taken calls on situations. T20 is very funny, a couple of sixes can change your mind. Captaincy is something I back my instincts on. Me and Ashu Pa (Ashish Nehra) have a similar mindset, we back our calls and we have similar calls,” said Pandya after the game.
“Today, the idea of bowling Rashid and Noor was simple. Green and Tim David, who are big hitters, like pace and that's why we wanted to offer them spin and offer them spinners that are difficult to read. Wanted to close the game early because a couple of games haven't gone in our favour recently.”
You might have already gotten bored of watching Gujarat win, but Pandya and his men haven’t, and they look desperate to prove everyone that the last season was no fluke. And, maybe it’s time to show them more respect.
What happens to Gujarat Titans now that Hardik Pandya is gone?
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