This very thought can excite most of the Gujarat Titans fans for sure. Yes, IPL is no Ranji Trophy or any of the domestic cricket tournaments organized by the BCCI, but still one can imagine this scenario where all the players from Gujarat are playing for their new IPL franchise Gujarat Titans.
In the just-concluded IPL 2022, I have found out that at least 12 Gujarati players have played for different franchises. So this figure is enough for me to create at least an XI that can participate as a team in IPL for Gujarat Titans. Before we proceed further let us check these Gujarati players who have played in the IPL 2022. Here they are…
Ravindra Jadeja (Saurashtra and CSK), Jaspreet Bumrah (Gujarat and Mumbai Indians), Jaydev Unadkat (Saurashtra and Mumbai Indians), Axar Patel (Gujarat and Delhi Capitals), Chetan Sakariya (Saurashtra and Delhi Capitals), Ripal Patel (Gujarat and Delhi Capitals), Harshal Patel (Haryana and Royal Challengers Bangalore), Sheldon Jackson (Saurashtra and Kolkata Knight Riders), Prerak Mankad (Saurashtra and Punjab Kings), Krunal Pandya (Baroda and Lucknow Super Giants), Hardik Pandya (Baroda and Gujarat Titans), Priyank Panchal (Gujarat and Gujarat Titans)
Looking at these names, one can easily understand that only two IPL franchises have not put faith in any Gujarati player available for the March 12th and 13th mega IPL auction. These two franchises are Rajasthan Royals and Sun Risers Hyderabad, one of them reached the finals and the other didn’t even qualify for the playoffs.
Anyways, let us come back to the point. If we go through the list of the Gujarati players played in the IPL 2022 given above, we can have a feeling that, unlike Gujarat Titans, this team will have a very weak batting lineup and extremely strong bowling lineup. Although in the IPL 2022 the GTs too had better bowling armors than their batting, then even their batters made them win a few of the impossible games while chasing big targets.
But, in our case, the batting looks too pale and thus we need to adjust the all-rounders available with us as makeshift batters to strengthen the batting lineup. In the list, I can see only Ripal Patel who plays for Gujarat in first-class cricket and playing for Delhi Capitals for the last couple of years at least, is the only proper batter. So most of our batters will be all-rounders that are playing at different positions in the playing XI we are going to field now.
Opening Batters (No 1 & 2)
Whatever I have seen in the recent IPL, the first name comes to my mind to open for our ‘All Gujaratis Gujarat Titans XI’ has to be the wicket-keeper batter from Saurashtra, Sheldon Jackson. He has kept well in most of the games he was allowed to play by the KKR team management. The only concern was about his batting form, but most of the time he was sent at No 5 or 6 in the IPL 2022, but because we are in the need of a good batter at the top I will put him at No. 1.
No.2 in our XI will be Krunal Pandya who remained one of the mainstays of the LSG during IPL 2022. He is an all-out attacking batter and with the power play is in session he can take the attack to the opposition where Sheldon can hold one end and rotate the strike for Krunal. If this pair can give at least a start of 50 odd runs in the first 6 overs, it would be considered to be a good start considering the weak batting lineup we have.
The Middle Order (No. 3, 4 & 5)
I first considered Ripal Patel, the only proper batter in the XI at the No. 3 spot, but then realized that in IPL 2022 many times Hardik Pandya did bat at No.3 and gave his team that calmness that was required at the time of fall of an early wicket. Even if the openers see through the power play Hardik can definitely play at No. 3 and can bat deep for our All Gujaratis Gujarat Titans XI.
If Hardik is batting at No 3 then the obvious choice for No 4 is Ripal Patel. Ripal has been seen batting in IPL a few times in the last two years, and he is again an attacking batter who doesn’t want to remain calm. But with no real batter in the side, Riple will be my No. 4 in this team, and with the calming influence, Hardik Pandya can provide, who knows Riple can bat with maturity?
There can be no better No 5 for me in any T20 team, whether it is Team India or the CSK than our own ‘Bapu’ Ravindra Jadeja. I never liked when he was asked to bat at No.6 or lower in T20s, so when I am the chairman of the selectors here (LOL) then I will use my privilege and will ask Bapu to bat at No 5. We know he can swing the game on his own by attacking any bowling attack and even by rotating the strike as well. So Jadeja will be my No. 5 in this All Gujaratis GT XI.
The Lower Order (No. 6, 7 & 8)
An XI that is full of all-rounders can be a problem at times but when you are deciding your lower middle order the likes of Axar Patel, and Prerak Mankad can become your big assets. Axar can play hot and cold kind of batting with ease and Prerak Mankad with is 140+ strike rate can go boom boom at the other end. With Harshal Patel at No 8 who can bat a bit the lower order of this team looks extremely solid to weather any difficult situation, isn’t it?
The Lower Order (Bowlers 9, 10, and 11)
I will send Jaspreet Bumrah at No.9 if his batting services are required at all. Bumrah will be followed by Jaydev Unadkat and Chetan Sakariya to complete the batting XI. We have seen Jaydev Unadkat using the long handle in one of the games he played for MI, so he can be useful too during the last few overs.
The bowling attack
There is plenty of choices. 9 out of 11 players can bowl so the captain of the team has his hands full of options if one or two bowlers go for plenty of runs. But still, I would prefer Bumrah and Harshal Patel to start the bowling and then followed by Chetan Sakariya and Jaydev Unadkat. Ravindra Jadeja will fill up the required 5 bowlers slots. Then Axar Patel, the Pandya brothers (Hardik and Krunal) along with Prerak Mankad will bowl if they are required. But all in all, bowling is not a problem at all for this team; it is really very strong to say the least.
The 12th Man
Priyank Panchal will be our 12th man as he was part of the Gujarat Titans’ net practice team. He will be useful as a batsman as well. I have not picked him in the playing XI because he wasn’t ‘officially’ purchased by GT during the auctions.
The Captain of our ‘All Gujaratis Gujarat Titans XI’
There can be no other choice than Hardik Pandya for this position. I am picking him as the team’s captain not because he has won the IPL 2022 for the real Gujarat Titans team, but because of the way he has handled his team around during the entire tournament, which was called ‘hopeless’ at the start of the league. He is our new captain cool and he also knows his strategy very well, thus Hardik Pandya will be my automatic choice for the captain of the team.
So, this was my personal choice of ‘All Gujaratis Gujarat Titans XI’, although we don’t have much choice either still you can give your choice of batting line-up and bowling attack in the comments section given below.
5th June 2022, Sunday