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Can the Gujarat Titans defend their IPL Crown?

There have been two successive winners of the Indian Premier League (IPL), as both Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians have won and defended their crowns in the past. Gujarat Titans are striving to become the third team to notch back-to-back triumphs in the competition after producing an incredible performance to win the IPL in their first season.

The club has managed to maintain the majority of its stars and has fined-tuned its roster for another charge at the title led by the brilliant Hardik Pandya, who was instrumental in their triumph. Few doubters of the Titans ahead of the 2023 campaign have the experience and quality in the ranks to join the Indians and Super Kings as back-to-back champions. It will be one of the many storylines to follow ahead of the 2023 campaign.

Are The Titans Ready For Another Charge

The Titans stunned the rest of the teams with a brilliant series of displays to finish top of the standings, winning 10 of their 14 matches. Their exceptional form locked them into Qualifier One, where they brushed aside the Rajasthan Royals in a thriller to secure a place in the final, despite the best efforts of Jos Buttler, who played another one of his hallmark innings expected of the England white-ball skipper. The Royals proved the first time around they were a threat.

But, the second game between the sides in the post-season was one-sided from the off. The Titans eased over the line with ten balls to spare in a routine chase for the crown.

Gujarat was well balanced in the 2022 campaign, possessing the firepower at the top of their batting order along with closers in the line-up. The bowling ranks were equally impressive, with world-class pace and spin options. Fortunately, the Titans have been able to keep their core team intact for the 2023 season amid off-season changes elsewhere, and as a result, are backed in the cricket odds at 6.00 as of 13th February to win the crown. The only significant loss from the 2022 team has been Lockie Ferguson, who was traded away to Kolkata Knight Riders. Although he was a peripheral player, England opener Jason Roy was also released.

Pandya was the key man for the Titans last season and excelled in the leading role. Shubman Gill is one of the top talents in the game, taking his cricket performances to new heights in the T20 game with the Indian national team. Both Pandya and Gill hold the key for Gujarat. Further success will hinge on the standard of their performances.

Kane Williamson’s arrival in the IPL Auction has further bolstered their batting ranks, giving the Titans arguably the most potent line-up in the competition. Williamson should lock down the number three role that was a slight issue at times last season, further strengthening their push for the crown. The team has a few weaknesses, but the quality of the rest of the IPL could make life difficult for Pandya and the company.

Potential Pitfalls

The Titans were far and away the top team in the IPL in the 2022 season, but maintaining those levels is exceptionally hard, even for the best of sports teams. Gujarat will now be the hunted side rather than the hunter, and the other teams have regrouped their rosters to bridge the gap. The loss of Ferguson could be a potential concern for the Titans.

The New Zealander was a solid third option with the ball behind Mohammed Shami and Rashid Khan. The onus will be on Yash Dahal, Josh Little, and Alzarri Joseph to rise to the occasion in the third role. Ferguson was not outstanding, so there was logic in allowing him to leave, but they will need to replace his 12 wickets and overs at the death.

Mumbai Indians will be looking to respond after falling out of the reckoning over the past two seasons. After winning their fifth crown in 2020, the Indians have been rebuilding but now seem to be back in charge. Rohit Sharma is one of the best captains in the competition and always makes the correct calls on the pitch.

Suryakumar Yadav is blossoming into one of the best T20 players in the world, giving the Indians a powerful punch at the top of the order. The signings of Australian trio Jason Behrendorff, Cameron Green, and Jhye Richardson further strengthen their side. With Jasprit Bumrah already in place and Jofra Archer fit again, the Indians have arguably the best attack in the IPL. Mumbai is the biggest danger to the Titans’ hopes of a repeat run.

With the Titans and numerous other teams looking strong heading into the new campaign, it looks set to be another exciting season for IPL fans.