The Gujarat Titans had a squad with several match-winners, but even so, the kind of start they’ve enjoyed in IPL 2022 is quite something.
Two weeks into the tournament, and they’re the only team who have a spotless win record. Three games played, three games won. Each one had tight moments – the last one went further down the wire than might have been thought possible – but each time, the Titans found the men to get the job done. And they’ve won while overcoming different challenges too. Against Lucknow Super Giants, the chase soared at the end. Against Delhi Capitals, conventional wisdom was brushed aside with a sterling defence. Against Punjab Kings, a high total was hunted down, with a sprinkling of Rahul Tewatia magic at the death.
Given the results, it is but natural that the team will be brimming with confidence. They’ll be up against a side who will also believe they’ve turned a corner after starting IPL 2022 slowly. Sunrisers Hyderabad endured losses, before getting on the points board in their most recent outing, against Chennai Super Kings. Their top-order showed spark in particular, through Abhishek Sharma and Rahul Tripathi, while the pedigree of Kane Williamson, Nicholas Pooran and Aiden Markram is well-known.
Both teams have bowling attacks that can break open games, although Titans will feel they’ve got an edge, given how well their bowlers have done under pressure, whether bowling first against power-hitting batters or defending scores.
What’s their form been?
Spectacularly good for Gujarat Titans. Shubman Gill has been batting in a different class this IPL, making heaps of runs, making them quickly, cutting down dot balls significantly – and doing it all with more than a touch of class. The trio of Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson and Rashid Khan have taken it upon themselves to be the bowling leader. Each one has done it in one of the games. And then there’s Hardik Pandya. He’s been on point as captain, taking more responsibility as a batter, and bowling his full quota of overs.
Sunrisers Hyderabad began with two losses, but with victory in the last game will be feeling a lot better. They’ve had batters and bowlers show moments of brilliance, but in their first two games, those moments weren’t stretched out for a long enough period. Now that the pressure of the first win is off their backs, they could be more dangerous.
Titans Trump Card
You cannot look beyond Rashid Khan for this one. He’s going up against his old franchise, the only team he had played for in the IPL till this year. He’s intimately familiar with their captain, several of their players, and their coaching staff. Since Sunrisers have some new personnel, there are batters who have faced Rashid in the cauldron of an IPL game. But there’s also the likes of Williamson and Abhishek Sharma, who have never faced Rashid in the IPL. They’ve probably done it a lot in the nets, but that will be very different to match pressure. There will be a lot of eyes peeled on how arguably the best T20 bowler in the world does against his former franchise.