IPL 2022 finalist Gujarat Titans have been the team to beat this season. Criticised for their picks at the mega auction earlier this year, Hardik Pandya's band of men have come together to dominate this IPL season, becoming the first team to qualify for the play-offs, and also for the final.
Out of the 15 matches they've played this season, Gujarat have lost only four with not just their big name players like Hardik Pandya, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Shami winning them matches, but almost every player of their squad standing up when required.
Here is how the IPL debutants made their way to the IPL 2022 final.
Winning Start to Debut Season
Gujarat Titans began their IPL journey with three straight victories, and made clear their title aspirations very early in the season. All the questions about their auction picks were answered with an opening victory over fellow debutants Lucknow Super Giants, and then the big one against favourites Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings.
In their first IPL game, against Lucknow, GT saw the pair of Deepak Hooda (55) and Ayush Badoni (54) set them a target of 159. Gujarat lost two early wickets, but finisher Rahul Tewatia (40*) with his powerful performance led his team to their first IPL victory, by 5 wickets.
Gujarat won their next match against Delhi Capitals by 14 runs to claim their second victory of the season. Shubman Gill’s 87-run knock helped GT set a target of 171, which was well-defended by the bowling led by Lockie Ferguson’s four-wicket haul.
Facing Punjab Kings in the next match, Gujarat Titans went on to close their third straight win in a row. However, it was not an easy win for them as the match went down to the last ball. The GT were, however, able to successfully chase down the 190-run target. Yet again, it was Shubman Gill (90) and Rahul Tewatia who played big roles in the victory.
Hyderabad Halt the Winning Streak
Gujarat’s winning streak was halted by Kane Williamson’s Sunrisers Hyderabad. Titans were asked to bat first and managed to post a decent target of 162 with skipper Hardik Pandya scoring 50* and Abhinav Manohar making 35. However, SRH captain Willaimson and opener Abhishek Sharma put together a 50-run opening partnership and later Nichols Pooran’s 34* helped them easily breeze past the strong Gujarat Titans.
Back to Winnings Ways
After that defeat to Hyderabad, Gujarat came back stronger and won their next five matches to get on the top of the IPL standings.
First, captain Hardik Pandya's clinical all-round performance and pacer Lockie Ferguson's superb bowling effort helped them close a 37-run win over Rajasthan Royals.
Then, Chennai Super Kings were defeated by three wickets, courtesy to a stellar David Miller (94 off 51) knock. CSK opener Ruturaj Gaikwad scored an excellent half-century (73 off 48) and helped the team post 169/5. In reply, Gujarat lost the wickets of Shubman Gill (0), Vijay Shankar (0) and Abhinav Manohar (12) inside the powerplay. David Miller stitched a 70-run partnership with Rashid Khan (40 off 21) to help get the team past the finish line.
KKR were then defeated by 8 runs in a close encounter on 23 April. Skipper Hardik Pandya had sat out of the previous game with a small niggle but returned for this fixture and his bowlers successfully defended 156 at the DY Patil Stadium.
On 27 April, Gujarat managed to exact revenge from Sunrisers Hyderabad for their defeat earlier in the season and defeated them by 5 wickets. SRH pacer Umran Malik picked his maiden fifer (5/25) but Wriddhiman Saha's solid half-century (68 off 38) helped the team get past the finish line.
Next was Faf du Plessis' RCB and once again some rearguard action from Rahul Tewatia and David Miller, who shared an unbeaten 79-run partnership for the fifth wicket, helped Gujarat Titans finish on top, winning the match by six wickets.
And this ended Gujarat's April campaign in IPL 2022 with a near-perfect record – just one defeat in nine outings.
Season's Second Defeat, to Punjab
Going against the norm of the season, Hardik Pandya won the toss and elected to bat first in the game against Punjab Kings and the decision backfired as they were handed an eight wicket defeat in Match 48 of IPL 2022.
Kagiso Rabada claimed an excellent four-fer (4/33) to help restrict Gujarat Titans to 143/8 in 20 overs. In reply, Shikhar Dhawan (62 not out off 53) smashed a half century and was part of a vital partnership of 87 off 58 balls for the second wicket with Bhanuka Rajapaksalbw (40 off 28) as Punjab crossed the finish line in 16 overs.
The recovery from the defeat wasn't quick as just three days later, Gujarat were handed their third defeat of the season, by Mumbai Indians.
Openers Shubman Gill and Wriddhiman Saha struck half-centuries and shared a 106-run partnership but Mumbai fought back strongly to reel them in for a 5 run win in Match 51. The win was Mumbai's second of the season, in 10 matches but despite the defeat, Gujarat remained on top of the IPL standings with 16 points.
Two Wins and a Defeat to Wrap Up League Stage
Just one more victory, and Gujarat entered the play-offs of IPL 2022 in their debut season. The win came against the same team they faced first this season – Lucknow Super Giants.
Rashid Khan claimed 4/24 and Sai Kishore (2/7) and Yash Dayal (2/24) complemented his efforts as Gujarat Titans bundled out Lucknow Super Giants for 82 in 13.5 over to script a 62-run victory.
Next up was MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings and Wriddhiman Saha starred with an unbeaten 67 as Gujarat Titans won the match by 7 wickets. After the bowlers produced a brilliant show to restrict Chennai to a below-par 133/5, Saha carried his bat throughout the innings to chase the total with five balls to spare.
The last league match though did not go Gujarat's way as RCB were looking for nothing less than a victory to give themselves a chance of qualifying for the final. Virat Kohli stepped up for his team, scoring 73 off 54 balls, with support from Faf du Plessis (44 off 38 balls) and Glenn Maxwell (40 not out off 18 balls) as RCB win the match by 8 wickets.
Qualifier 1, and Victory Over RR
Gujarat Titans qualified for the play-offs in the top position and also needed just one match to make their way to the title match.
In Qualifier 1, against Rajasthan Royals, Gujarat produced a clinical all-round performance to win the match at Eden Gardens by 7 wickets.
A fighting fifty by Jos Buttler (89 off 56) and Sanju Samson's attacking knock (47 off 26) powered Rajasthan Royals to 188/6 in 20 overs.
In reply, Shubman Gill (35 off 21) Matthew Wade (35 off 30) played solid knocks and kept Gujarat alive in the run chase. However, once they got out, Gujarat were in some sort of trouble. But David Miller (68 not out off 38) and skipper Hardik Pandya (40 not out off 27) batted sensibly and stitched an unbeaten partnership of 106 runs and led Gujarat to an impressive 7-wicket win with three balls to spare.