Hardik Pandya and the Gujarat Titans stunned everyone by topping the points table in the IPL 2022 and eventually winning the title. This was the Titans’ debut season in the IPL and they had punted on Hardik Pandya to captain for the first time in his career.
They also punted on a few other players and it all worked out well for the Titans as they won the IPL 2022.
However, the title defense for the Titans in IPL 2023 will be even more difficult than winning the trophy last year – as it’s always for any team.
Here are 3 key reasons why the Gujarat Titans might falter this time in IPL 2023:
Season after winning the trophy syndrome; players likely to be found out
As mentioned above, defending your title is always a more difficult and demanding task for any team, in any sport in the world. For, your competitors had seen your best and will come better prepared the next time.
In the 15 seasons in the IPL, only twice – CSK in 2011 and MI in 2020 – the IPL title has been successfully defended.
Tewatia, Miller, Gill, Pandya, Saha, Shami, Rashid, Ferguson – they all had perhaps their best or second-best IPL season last year. It is highly unlikely that all of them will once again hit their peaks together.
Lack of depth in spin bowling
After Rashid Khan, the Titans don’t really have a high-quality, experienced spinner.
R Sai Kishore, Jayant Yadav have some IPL experience, but mostly have attained their success in domestic cricket. Performing in the IPL, especially in front of a huge crowd in Ahmedabad, will demand great temperament from these two inexperienced spinners.
Plus, even Rashid Khan has been off-color this year: in the SA20, Rashid managed 9 wickets in 10 matches, and before that in the BBL too, though he remained economical, Rashid hasn’t been picking wickets with the frequency he used to until last IPL. It seems as if teams are getting better at working out Rashid and tackling him. This is a worry for Gujarat, who will bank on Rashid Khan, who took 19 wickets last season.
Over-dependence On Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya was the backbone and the most instrumental figure in GT’s success last season. Apart from being a terrific leader off the field and captain on the field, Pandya played the key role of a seam-bowling all-rounder.
Coming off a long injury layoff due to his back injury issues, Pandya scored 487 runs at an average of 44 and sent down 30.3 overs in all, including returning with 3/17 in the final.
However, that was a Pandya coming off 4 months of rest and rehab. Now, though, Pandya will be coming off a workover of a year where he was India’s key all-rounder in white-ball cricket, regularly bowling overs.
His bowling workload will also have to be managed cautiously keeping the Asia Cup and the World Cup in mind. If anything were to happen to Pandya, Gujarat’s season could go for a toss as the side is heavily depended on their skipper’s all-round skillset, given the next best Indian all-rounder they have is Vijay Shankar.
Gujarat Titans squad for IPL 2023:
Hardik Pandya (C), Shubman Gill, Rahul Tewatia, Mohammed Shami, Shivam Mavi, Yash Dayal, R Sai Kishore, Abhinav Manohar, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Jayant Yadav, Vijay Shankar, KS Bharat (wk), Mohit Sharma, Darshan Nalkande, Urvil Patel, Sai Sudharsan, Pradeep Sangwan, Rashid Khan, David Miller, Matthew Wade (wk), Alzarri Joseph, Kane Williamson, Josh Little, Odean Smith, Noor Ahmad