Final lost but Gujarat Titans show they are here to stay

May 31, 2023 08:42 AM IST

This is a team that has come in, destroyed the well-established order and done it in a manner that few could have imagined.

On Tuesday morning, Gujarat Titans had shut shop. They didn't want to talk. “We have lost, there is nothing much to say,” they said to requests for interviews.

As cut-throat as T20 cricket is, GT have also shown empathy.(AFP)
As cut-throat as T20 cricket is, GT have also shown empathy.(AFP)

Put aside the momentary hurt of losing the 2023 IPL final to Chennai Super Kings by the closest of margins though and you realise that Gujarat’s achievements, in just their second season in the league, are nothing short of ridiculous.

This is a team that has come in, destroyed the well-established order and done it in a manner that few could have imagined.

In 2023, they topped the league standings with 20 points from 14 matches. The Orange Cap holder (Shubman Gill, 890 runs) came from their squad. The Purple Cap holder (Mohammed Shami, 28 wickets) came from their squad. And in making their second successive final, they have proved that building from scratch does not need to be a 10-year undertaking.

Also Read: '...he was looking calm': Sanjay Manjrekar slams Gujarat Titans' last over tactics, 'Mohit Sharma was in the zone'

Usually, you assemble a squad trying to focus on the skill sets you need but there is every chance that despite your best intentions, things don’t always fall in place.

If done right (which one might argue is anything but easy), there is a chance that teams can find the delicate balance that is the difference between winning and losing in T20 matches. But more often than not, teams take time to find their own method. One can't just adopt what works for Chennai or Mumbai. Others have tried; it doesn't work. You have to do it your own way.

And that is something GT skipper Hardik Pandya and coach Ashish Nehra have done so well. They aren't like Chennai's MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming. They aren't like Mumbai's Rohit Sharma and Mark Boucher either. They are, instead, chatterboxes. Talking all the time, in meetings, on the boundary line, during the strategic timeouts, on the field.

Also Read: Watch: How confident Hardik Pandya's early celebration was cut short by Jadeja's last-ball brilliance in IPL 2023 final

There is an energy about them which is infectious. The casual observer might comment on how they never stop talking but at the same time, others in the team are also encouraged to say their piece. And it shows on the field, the chats are conversations. The other players are involved, they aren’t just observers.

They aren't afraid to experiment or to do things that others might find odd. So, even though KKR felt Shubman Gill would take a while to adjust to T20 cricket, they bet on him. The same can be said of Wriddhiman Saha and Mohit Sharma and David Miller. Why, the same can also be said of their skipper Pandya. MI thought he was done but together, as a group, GT have shown perseverance and determination that few other teams have.

As cut-throat as T20 cricket is, GT have also shown empathy. Everyone might remember Jadeja’s four to seal the final win of the season and the wild celebrations that followed. But the manner in which the team gathered around Mohit was heartening to see.

The pacer was in tears. He had bowled four perfect yorkers before seeing the last two balls disappear for six and four. Pandya put an arm over his shoulder and gave him a hug. It is gestures like these that build a team.

“I think we tick a lot of boxes and we play with our heart,” said Pandya in the post game chat. “We’ve always been a team that has stood together and no one gave up. We win together and we lose together. Maybe one of those games today. I mean, I’m not one of those guys who makes excuses.”

He added: “Really happy for the guys. We’ve been backing them and their success has been their success. Mohit, Shami, Rashid, everyone... the way they put their hand up.”

Gujarat's performance showed that their showing last year, their run to the title, wasn’t a flash in the pan. If anything, there is a feeling of permanence in the way they conduct themselves. A feeling that tells you they are here to stay.

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