Gujarat Titans are far ahead at the top of the IPL points table. In just their first season, the Titans have an astounding win percentage of 88% with only one loss from nine games. Despite going into the auction as one of the least favoured teams, the Titans have showed remarkable resilience to scrap their way to winning positions from what looked like inevitable defeat. They are poised for a playoffs spot in the top two, barring an unlikely streak of defeats. Today they are fresh off a five-match winning streak, however, and take on the Punjab Kings at DY Patil Stadium.
1. Best bowling attack
With Rashid Khan, Mohammad Shami and Lockie Ferguson, there was no question that they would be one of the toughest units to face this IPL. Shami is the leading wicket-taker so far, with 14 wickets from nine games, while averaging 20 with an economy rate of 7. Still, he’s only the eighth bowler on the list of Purple Cap contenders. Ferguson is next on the list with ten followed by Rashid Khan’s nine, and though the superstar spinner would have expected more wickets he has still been the most economical of the Titans bowlers by far, conceding 7.1 runs per over. They have defended totals as low as 156 against Kolkata Knight Riders, and 171 against Delhi Capitals by small but by no means narrow margins, and inflicted a heavy 37-run defeat upon the Rajasthan Royals after setting them a target of 192.
2. Hardik Pandya’s resurgence as Gujarat Titans skipper
The reemergence of Hardik Pandya has become a story for the ages. Coming off a long injury break, he took the initiative and led the Titans’ charge from the front. He has 308 runs from eight innings, including three half-centuries that came back-to-back. Hardik averages 51 while batting a a strikerate of 135, and is the fifth highest run-scorer of the tournament behind Jos Buttler, KL Rahul, Abhishek Sharma and Shreyas Iyer. His three fifties don’t tell the whole story; he made meaningful contributions in the first three games as well with scores of 33, 31 and 27. A groin strain saw him sitting out of the team’s fixture against Chennai; up until then Hardik had been bowling his full quota of overs, and taken four wickets from five games at an economy rate of 7.56.
3. Multiple match-winners
Mohammad Shami, Lockie Ferguson, Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya, David Miller, Rashid Khan, Rahul Tewatia have all received player-of-the-match awards this season. Seven different players have stood up across each of their eight wins, and done what was needed to take their team through. While no one player dominates the list for the Orange or Purple Cap, the Titans’ armour seems to have few weak links, notwithstanding the poor form of VIjay Shankar and Matthew Wade. Wade has managed only 68 runs from five innings at a strike rate of 107.93 and Vijay’s struggles have been even worse, scoring only 19 in four innings at 54.28. Against Chennai Super Kings, they still won despite the absence of Hardik Pandya, and losing Shubman Gill for a duck thanks to David Miller and Rashid Khan’s assault.