SPO_230508 GUJARAT-1683560149267
Gujarat Titans' Rashid Khan (centre) celebrates with teammates after taking a catch to dismiss Lucknow Super Giants' Kyle Mayers on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Gujarat Titans have been steamrollering their rivals with ruthless authority this year. If one thought the rivals would have come out with their game plan to stop the juggernaut of the defending champions, the answer seems to be no. After a successful first season last year, the Titans have marched to their eighth win, a thumping 56-run verdict against Lucknow Super Giants on Sunday for their eighth success in 11 matches.

Titans topped the table after winning 10 of their 14 league games during their debut season last year before going on to win their maiden title, defeating Rajasthan Royals in the final. They have continued from where they had left off this season.

Success formula

What makes them so special?

Sometimes the success formula is to keep it simple. Skipper Hardik Pandya has managed to follow in the footsteps of Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to give the players the freedom after fixing their individual roles. Irrespective of the outcome, they both back their players to the hilt. Seldom they chop and change their teams, sometimes not even one change. The performance shows. Veterans like Wriddhiman Saha and Ajinkya Rahane have found a new wind to their sails to show the world that they still have plenty left in them. Both Gujarat and Chennai are topping the table is by no means a coincidence.

SPO_230508 GUJARAT1-1683560151439
Shubman Gill has been giving Gujarat Titans the right starts. The opener, who was not part of India's whiteball set up, is now a permanent fixture. Image Credit: Source: IPL Twitter

Enjoying their roles

There is no fear of failure, which makes it easy for them to go out and express themselves more freely and enjoy their roles. When the Titans lost to Delhi Capitals from a winning position, skipper Pandya just took the blame upon himself for the loss. These acts win the trust of the players, who will be eager to try harder to get a positive result.

However, after the win against Lucknow, led by his brother Krunal Pandya, Hardik heaped praise on Rashid Khan. “I can’t ask for anything better, especially after playing post a day’s gap and in the afternoon. Rashid’s catch changed the game, then we started controlling the game. Both teams were driving at 100kph, but that wicket caused a bump,” he said.

Shami new
Mohammed Shami has been bowling incisive spells to claime 19 wickets in the IPL season so far. Image Credit: AFP

Strong support cast

Pandya is also backed by a strong think-tank with Gary Kirsten at the helm and a team filled with match-winners that includes Shubman Gill, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia in batting while Mohammed Shami and Rashid Khan have been in close competition for the Purple Cap with 19 wickets each, occupying the top two positions.

Gill, who has transformed into a whiteball specialist this year, has been playing a pivotal role in batting with 469 runs in 11 matches, while the likes of Pandya, Miller and Tewatia pack a punch to pull themselves past the winning line after coming in late down the order, a tough task in Twenty20 cricket. While in bowling Noor Ahmed and Mohit Sharma have been playing the supporting roles to perfection.

IPL legacy

Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar, speaking on Star Sports’ Cricket Live, had said Hardik is going to leave a lasting legacy in IPL with his captaincy.

Gavaskar said: “Sometimes the captains try to keep their personality and the team’s personality the same. The personality of the captain and the team could be different. Hardik is not trying to impose his personality on the team. That’s what Hardik is doing with Gujarat Titans. This is going to be his legacy as a skipper. He’s very similar to MS Dhoni in his approach as captain and imbibed the good qualities from his former India skipper.”

Every time Gujarat Titans have come out with a close win, they have become stronger. The depth in the team and each individual playing his role to perfection has made Pandya’s job easier to steer the Titans to success after success.