Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar said he is expecting Hardik Pandya-led Gujarat Titans to carry the same confidence they had while winning IPL 2022 to the upcoming edition of the tournament starting from March 31 in Ahmedabad.
In their first appearance of the league, Titans had topped the group stage in IPL 2022 with 20 points coming from ten wins and four losses. In the playoffs, they managed to get the better of Rajasthan Royals by an identical margin of seven wickets in both first qualifier and title clash, to lift the coveted trophy in their debut season of the IPL.
Now entering IPL 2023 as defending champions, the Titans will be looking to kick off the 2023 season with a bang against four-time IPL winners Chennai Super Kings at their home ground, Narendra Modi Stadium, on Friday.
"They had the worst performance in the IPL 2022 auction but ended up winning the title. There were huge gambles they played. Take the decision of appointing Hardik Pandya as the captain for that matter.
Who'd have imagined he'd become such a brilliant captain? "David Miller, a long-term flop show in the IPL, suddenly had the best season and he carried that form into his international career. So, it's a team built and supported by realists.
So they are going to adjust fine and win games and I expect them to carry the same kind of confidence they had last season. The team hasn't changed that much from the previous season," Manjrekar was quoted as saying by Star Sports, the official TV broadcasters of IPL 2023.
Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who lifted the IPL 2018 trophy with CSK, credited the flexibility Titans had in their batting order last year, saying it gave them an edge over other teams.
Last year, Pandya took more responsibility with the bat and scored 487 runs while David Miller smashed 481 runs to help the team get over the line in some tough chases. "One thing which they've done better than the rest is that they've been very flexible.
They've never been rigid about who bats where. We saw Hardik Pandya coming up in the batting order and scoring those runs and he wasn't just slogging the ball, he played like a proper batter for Gujarat Titans last season," said Harbhajan.
"He was very smart last season. Jonty Rhodes once said 'a happy team is a winning team' and that's the formula this team applied. From what I gathered from Ashish Nehra and the entire team management, they were a very-very happy team," he added.
Former India left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan listed three reasons which will be crucial to Titans' successful defence of the trophy in IPL 2023. "First of all the confidence from the previous edition as they played like a champion side and won the trophy.
Second, Hardik Pandya, as he's also leading India. This gives him an extra mental boost. And thirdly, Rashid Khan, who is always a key to success for any team in this format," said Pathan.