Ahmedabad/Mumbai: Not many gave them a chance after the Indian Premier League auction but that is the quality of underdogs- they adapt and evolve to prove their detractors wrong. Gujarat Titans are the new IPL Champions in their maiden season.
The captain, Hardik Pandya led from the front and in the final, he was adjudged Man of the Match for his all-round performance.
In the post-match interview, Pandya spoke about how he had to come up with the order to bat throughout the tournament once he realized the team composition after the IPL auction. These little adjustments along with other tactical maneuvers ensured that Gujarat went from being nobody to favorites by the end of the league stage. Eventually, they won the final by 7 wickets, dominating the entire game against Rajasthan Royals.
The final, before the game even began, was a grand spectacle. The pre-match ceremony saw some of Bollywood’s biggest stars including AR Rahman and Ranveer Singh perform to entertain the fans. Interestingly, the BCCI entered the Guinness Book of World Records as they showcased the largest sports jersey with the logo of all 10 IPL teams.
The toss of a coin wasn’t a worry for Gujarat Titans as Rajasthan opted to bat first, a decision which went wrong for them. The Orange Cap winner for most runs, Jos Buttler started steadily and top-scored with 39. But once he fell, Rajasthan folded like a pack of cards and could muster a paltry 130 total in 20 overs. The score just wasn’t enough to challenge an in-form batting line-up like the Titans. Despite a couple of initial hiccups, the arrival of Hardik Pandya at the crease steadied their ship and later David Miller along with the classy Shubman Gill made sure that victory was achieved without any drama.
All through the final, the spotlight was firmly fixed on Hardik Pandya. Apart from losing the toss, he did everything right. His figures of 3 for 17 in 4 overs, broke the momentum of Rajasthan’s innings and they could never recover. During batting, Pandya came at a crucial stage with his team in trouble at 23 for 2 but he put on a 63-run partnership with Shubman Gill to cement a famous win.
His return to form along with his newfound talent as a sharp captain, augurs well for the Indian team as they prepare for the T20 World Cup later this year. Pandya had been struggling all through the previous year due to a back injury. But IPL2022 has proved his fitness and his performances clearly show why experts had rated him as the new Kapil Dev when he entered the national team.
Besides Gujarat, the other debutants Lucknow Super Giants were also superb through most of the season. KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock’s combination was the finest opening pair of this IPL. But unfortunately, a lot of imports were disappointing, especially the bowlers.
Indian players though showed a lot of potential. The IPL has become a key platform to get into the Indian Team and everyone from Umran Malik to Dinesh Karthik has found inclusion in Team India by performing consistently well in the tournament.
A whole bunch of Indian new pacers has been the find of the IPL2022. Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh to Mohsin Khan and Avesh Khan have made everyone sit up and take notice. Also, Indian spinners, especially Chahal and Kuldeep, proved their utility whereas others like Ravi Bishnoi showed promise.
The worrying factor for India is the batting form of its superstars. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have both had a dreadful season. Some other established members of the Indian side like Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant had a forgettable season too. Even Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav seemed in a sketchy form. Ahead of the T20 World Cup, the Indian batting machine needs considerable improvement or they can kiss their chances goodbye for this edition as well.
The season saw a lot of thrills and close contests. While the top three teams- Gujarat, Lucknow and Rajasthan ensured their place in the semis easily, Royal Challengers Bangalore had to rely on Mumbai to win their last game for a spot in the top 4. But Bangalore had another barren season and will look to 2023 for another shot at the title. For that to happen they would need their biggest star- Virat Kohli to fire all guns blazing which wasn’t the case this time around. Perhaps Indian batting stars can take a leaf out of Jos Buttler’s book who had an outstanding season with the bat scoring four hundred. But as the finals revealed, it wasn’t ‘Jos the Boss’ but Pandya who outshone everyone on the big stage.
The last two months saw history being made as debutants became champions while giants like Mumbai and Chennai had a disastrous season. For fans, it was a treat as they got two new teams to cheer for and ultimately, Brand IPL won with more viewership.
For the time being, the focus now turns to the Indian team as they take on South Africa in the T20 series. The franchise fans will now be a larger family as they support Team India and hope that their stars hit peak form as the much-awaited World Cup looms ahead.