Gujarat Lions, led by the mercurial all-rounder Hardik Pandya into the 16th edition of Tata IPL 2023 as the defending champions, having won the coveted tournament in their very first attempt. They defeated the Rajasthan Royals in the final to become only the 2nd side after the Royals themselves to win the IPL in their maiden appearance.
Gujarat Titans Squad (IPL 2023): Hardik Pandya (C), Shubman Gill, David Miller, Abhinav Manohar, Sai Sudharsan, Wriddhiman Saha, Matthew Wade, Rashid Khan, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Mohammed Shami, Alzarri Joseph, Yash Dayal, Pradeep Sangwan, Darshan Nalkande, Jayant Yadav, R Sai Kishore, Noor Ahmad, Kane Williamson, Odean Smith, KS Bharat, Shivam Mavi, Urvil Patel, Joshua Little, Mohit Sharma
The defending champions will march into their 2nd edition with confidence and a largely unchanged squad. They didn’t have to tinker around their winning team as expected, and in more ways than one, the Titans look like a side that can become the 2nd team after CSK to defend the IPL crown successfully. GT will open its campaign against the Dhoni-led CSK side on the opening night of the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League.
As mentioned earlier, GT didn’t have much to do at the auctions, but when they did make a purchase, it was a steal. Gujarat team bought current New Zealand limited-overs skipper Kane Williamson at his base price and then the hard-hitting all-rounder Odean Smith at a nominal price. Their additions have made the team much more balanced and stronger than before.
Predicted Starting XI for GT in IPL 2023
Openers: Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha/ Matthew Wade
Shubman Gill is easily the best batsman in international cricket this year. The opening batter has been in tremendous form for the Indian team and has scored over 900 runs with 5 centuries across format in 2023, and he is only going to get better. With a T20I century already in this calendar year, the GT team will hope the talented opener also continues his form in the IPL.
Gill could be partnered at the top of the order by either of the experienced wicket-keeper batters, Matthew Wade or Wriddhiman Saha, both of whom are dangerous. According to the team combination demands, one of the veterans will feature in the playing XI and open along with the ever-impressive Shubman Gill.
Middle-order: Kane Williamson/ Sai Sudharsan, Abhinav Manohar, David Miller
Kane Williamson adds stability to GT’s top order, and the no.3 was one of the areas of concern for them in the last season. They have sorted it out by including the Kiwi legend in the team, and if Saha does open the innings, Kane is most likely to take the role of the No.3 in the Gujarat Titan side. Willamson has scored 2101 runs in 76 IPL outings at an average of over 36 for SRH in the past and will look to add more here.
Abhinav Manohar is a hard-hitting middle-order batsman who can take the game away from the opposition and played 8 games in the last season for this champion side. He and the in-from David Miller from South Africa will take the mantle of carrying the middle order. Miller had his best IPL season yet in 2022, where he smashed 481 runs at an average of a whopping 68.71, striking at over 142, and a rich vein of form playing for the Proteas.
All-rounders: Hardik Pandya, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan
Hardik Pandya adds a different dimension to this GT team, and the all-rounder has grown leaps & bounds as a leader. Pandya, like Miller, had a stellar 2022 season where he scored 487, which is by far his best in terms of runs to go with a tally of 8 wickets in 15 games. The fire-power of Gujarat Titans continues with the leg-spin all-rounder Rahul Tewatia coming in next, and the left-hand batsman has already proved he is a match-winner on his day. Tewatia was one of the stars for the side in the last edition scoring 217 runs at a strike rate of 147.
Rashid Khan, the impressive leg-spinner, has been a great addition to the GT side, and he proved his worth by winning games both with bat & ball for the team last season. He took 19 wickets at an average of 22.16 from the 16 games he played in the 2022 IPL.
Bowlers: Alzarri Joseph, Shivam Mavi, Mohammad Shami
Alzarri Joseph was the best West Indies bowler on display for the past couple of years, and GT has him in their line-up. He has been the country’s leading wicket-taker. He is expected to lead the pace attack of GT along with the Indian pacer Mohammad Shami who is a wicket away from reaching the 100 wickets milestone in IPL. Shami accounted for 20 of these 99 scalps in the last edition and is also set to play a huge role in the Titans’ title defense.
Shivam Mavi was brought for a huge sum of 6 crores, and by the looks of things, the pacer is all set to be included in the GT line-up straightway. He has taken 32 wickets thus far in 30 IPL games.
Gujarat Probable Playing XI: Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha/ Matthew Wade, Kane Williamson/ Sai Sudharsan, Abhinav Manohar, David Miller, Hardik Pandya, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Alzarri Joseph, Shivam Mavi, Mohammad Shami