Ahmedabad, May 28 – Before the start of IPL 2022, many hadn’t given Gujarat Titans a chance to be in the playoffs, let alone the final of the tournament.
But, as things stand now, the Hardik Pandya-led side is in Sunday’s title clash at their home ground, the Narendra Modi Stadium, against inaugural champions Rajasthan Royals. The ingredients of success for Gujarat, as per leg-spinner Rashid Khan, have been down to two things: top-class balance and clarity in roles to the players.
“To me, it is not important that you have all the best players in the eleven, that is something which is not important to have in your team. The kind of players you need to have, you need to give them certain roles in the team. If you have the best five-six players who bat at the top order and not able to bat at number five or six, I don’t think you can manage that team well,” said Rashid in the pre-final virtual press conference.
Rashid further explained that with everyone in the team made clear about their roles before the start of the tournament, it helped in getting the required balance for the playing eleven. “More important has been the balance we have in the team, which has helped to take us in this position because it was very clear to each and every player what is my position, where I will bat and even knew that this is the situation I will face in the game and be fully prepared for that.
“There was no confusion in the players’ mind that what will be the responsibility in my team and what role I will play. It was very clear from game one, which was really important for bowling unit too, that ‘yes, this is my responsibility, this is where I will bowl’.”
“So, that’s really important than you having the best teams. The balance of the team has been top-class, that’s how we got here. We never had it in the mind before the competition that where we are going to reach but it was in our mind that we have to play good cricket, to give 100 per cent, be well-prepared for the game, train and practice hard to have the positive mindset and enjoy the game.
“We are so happy to be here but we will keep things simple for the final: – just go there, express our skills and enjoy the game.”
In this season, Gujarat have had eight players who picked Player of the Match awards, with Rashid winning once and left-handed batter David Miller bagging the award twice. Miller, who won Gujarat a direct ticket to the final with an unbeaten 38-ball 68, feels that fellow finisher, all-rounder Rahul Tewatia, and pacer Mohammed Shami have been amongst the players who have contributed to the side’s consistent run with little but important contributions.
“It obviously has been a really good season. But the standouts for me have been Rahul Tewatia. You talk about the performances which didn’t get man of the match awards. His two sixes, we needed 12 off the last two balls, he won the game there (against Punjab Kings).
“Someone like Shami has bowled incredibly well, like he’s put us in really good positions in the power-play despite not getting man of the match awards and just sort of setting the tone as a bowling unit. It’s really tough to single out different players as lots of guys have put their hand up throughout the season in small moments that have contributed towards a lot of wins.”
Rashid, too, agreed with Miller’s views and remarked that all eleven members making efforts to win matches has been huge than grabbing individual awards. “It’s not just depending on one player, like he takes four-five wickets or makes 80-90 runs in each game to win it for us. It has been the contribution of all the eleven players and that is something which has meant that we are here.
“Even if it’s a single wicket or an over which changes the momentum of the game in certain times, that is also why the opposition teams never made plans against us because the whole eleven takes the responsibility, which has also meant that we have been on the winning side maximum times.
“We understood our roles and responsibility; it’s not about getting man of the match. It’s just about I have to perform well when the team needs, like good overs or couple of wickets. That is something which matters rather than to get man of the match.”