Factors Behind Gujarat Titans’ Disappointing Season in IPL 2024

Read about the Gujarat Titans elimination, and impact of injuries and declining performances, including Rashid Khan’s struggles, affecting their campaign.

Gujarat Titans had a remarkable journey to the title in 2022 and came agonizingly close to defending their crown in 2023. However, their performance this season has been disappointing. Despite dominating the group stages in the first two years, they find themselves eliminated before the final game.

Key Departures and Inconsistent Top Order

Many speculate whether their downturn can be attributed to the departure of their captain, Hardik Pandya. Additionally, the absence of Mohammed Shami and the inconsistent form of Shubman Gill have been pointed out as contributing factors to their struggles.

The impact of Gill’s form cannot be overstated. His explosive batting, highlighted by a 50-ball century against Chennai Super Kings, initially fueled hopes for a successful campaign. However, his performance took a downturn midway through the season. Despite starting with promise, Gill’s form waned, with only 67 runs in his next five innings until he broke the drought with a century.

This decline starkly contrasts with his stellar performance last year, where he amassed 890 runs and three centuries. Gill’s consistency and remarkable strokeplay, coupled with an improved six-hitting ability, made his exclusion from India’s T20 plans unthinkable.

However, this season saw a shift in fortunes for Gill, which had a ripple effect on Gujarat Titans’ top order. Their powerplay performance suffered, becoming the worst in the league with a run rate of 7.23. Furthermore, the struggles of Wriddhiman Saha, who provided a strong start last year, compounded their batting woes.

This season, Shubman Gill’s average of 15.11 is the lowest among all openers who have played at least nine innings in the powerplay. In the absence of Wriddhiman Saha for the game against CSK, Sai Sudharsan opened the innings instead of playing at No. 3.

Rising Star Sudharsan’s Powerplay Challenge

While Sudharsan has been one of the top run-scorers this season, he has faced challenges in the powerplay, particularly against pace. His strike rate of 114 in this phase was the lowest among batters with nine innings. However, Sudharsan showcased his potential in their victory over CSK, scoring 103 off 51 balls. Despite a slow start, he accelerated during the middle overs, addressing a concern for GT, who had been slow in that phase until that game.

Despite Sudharsan’s achievement of surpassing 500 runs, there will likely be discussions regarding his performance in the powerplay, an area he admitted still needs improvement.

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Issues in the Middle Order and Death Overs

Moving on to the middle-order, Hardik Pandya played a crucial role in the first two seasons, often batting at No. 4 to manage pressure and allow other batsmen like David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, and Rashid Khan to finish innings. However, in his absence, GT struggled to find the right balance.

Last season, Vijay Shankar played ten innings in the middle order for GT, scoring 301 runs. However, he struggled for form this season and lost his place in the team midway through. Shahrukh Khan, a significant auction acquisition, only joined the team when they were already facing a downturn.

Azmatullah Omarzai was brought in as an all-rounder to provide balance, but his batting impact was below expectations, managing just 42 runs in four innings.

David Miller was given a more prominent role in the middle order, but he only registered one half-century this season. His struggles, especially during the middle overs where he scored at a rate of just 123, were evident. Similarly, Rahul Tewatia also found it challenging to accelerate, striking at 77 in the middle phase.

Despite accumulating resources in the middle order, GT failed to finish strongly, ranking ninth in the death overs. This imbalance across all batting phases left their bowlers with a daunting task.

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Injuries Disrupt Momentum

Injuries also played a part in the team’s struggles. Robin Minz’s absence forced them to persist with Saha as an opener, while BR Sharath, Minz’s replacement, featured in only one game. In total, GT used 23 players, the most by any team this season.

Bowling Woes: Missing Shami’s Impact

The absence of Mohammed Shami, who was instrumental last season with his hard length and seam movement, was keenly felt. Shami’s exceptional performance in the powerplay last season, with 17 wickets at an average of 19.41 and an economy of 7.5, was unmatched. However, his prolonged recovery from an ankle injury ruled him out for this season.

Consequently, GT had to experiment with their bowling options, including deploying Mohit Sharma, typically a death-overs specialist, in the powerplay. Sandeep Warrier, Shami’s replacement, showed promise briefly, while Umesh Yadav had an inconsistent season. Spencer Johnson, one of their expensive auction signings, struggled to find swing and conceded runs.

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Mohit Sharma’s Decline and Rashid Khan’s Challenge

Overall, it’s likely Mohit’s decline in performance during the death overs that significantly impacted Gujarat Titans. The team, which boasted the best economy in the death overs last year, thanks largely to Mohit’s contributions, now struggled in this phase, leaking runs.

In the initial stages of the season, Mohit performed well, claiming eight wickets in his first six games at an economy rate of 9.39. His standout performances against Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad played a pivotal role in Gujarat Titans’ victories. However, Mohit faced a slump in the middle of the season, highlighted by conceding 73 runs without taking a wicket in four overs against Delhi Capitals, marking the most expensive figures in the IPL. Although he bounced back with a notable performance of 3 for 31 against CSK, by then, the team’s playoff chances were virtually dashed.

Additionally, Rashid Khan, known for his wicket-taking ability, has struggled to make an impact this season, picking up only 12 wickets in ten matches so far. This could be attributed to teams adopting a more aggressive approach, particularly with the Impact Player rule allowing for greater batting depth. As a result, Rashid’s economy rate of 8.30 in the last two seasons is notably higher than his economy rate of 6.59 when the Gujarat Titans emerged victorious in 2022.

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A Match That Exemplified the Challenges

This season, Rashid Khan has faced significant challenges, experiencing his highest number of matches with an economy rate of ten or more in his IPL career – a total of four times. Additionally, for the first time since his IPL debut in 2017, Rashid has gone wicketless in three consecutive games. He has attributed these struggles to the lingering effects of a back surgery he underwent before the season.

Rashid explained, “It did initially in the first few games… when I was bowling my wrong’un, it wasn’t going how it should because for that I have to use my back more than for leg spin.” This uncertainty affected his confidence, especially when experiencing stiffness in his back.

Conclusion

These ongoing injury concerns have impacted Rashid’s performance on the field, which was particularly evident when Will Jacks struck him for 29 runs, including four sixes, in a single over, leading to an easy win for RCB in Ahmedabad.