Gqeberha – The Gujarat Titans have mastered two perfect strategies for white ball cricket in Indian conditions and it is for South Africa to fine-tune and apply the same strategies in the 50-Over World Cup in India later this year.
The defending champions, the Gujarat Titans, have been impressive this season just as they were in their debut season in 2022.
Their two campaigns are a case study worth looking into for Proteas coach Rob Walter and his team before South Africa heads to India for the World Cup in October.
IOL Sport picks two tricks from the repertoire of the defending champs for SA to consider.
Chasing under pressure
Last season, the Titans set an incredible example of how crucial it is to be an exceptional chasing team in the shorter formats of the game.
Time and again last season, captain Hardik Pandya and South Africa’s David Miller led from the front and perfected the art of chasing under pressure and eventually helped the franchise win its first ever IPL title.
Miller was so unstoppable in chasing down scores, such that he finished the season unbeaten on nine occasions in a total of 16 innings.
The Titans would eventually win seven matches chasing the set target including in the 2022 final. They won four matches defending their totals and almost all of their defeats came batting first.
Bowlers win you titles
This season, Gary Kirsten’s men have turned the script around and seem to excel more because of their almost-impeccable bowling unit.
Two of their bowlers in Mohammed Shami and Rashid Khan comfortably occupy the top two spots in the current leading wicket-takers’ list with Shami leading the way as the purple cap holder.
Mohit Sharma, another Titans bowler, also features in this list.
As a result, the defending champions were the first team to reach the play-offs this season and have done so with one group match in hand.
It’s a different story at the Royal Challengers Bangalore, who have captain Faf du Plessis leading the batters as the orange cap holder. It is clear that all that batting prowess from Du Plessis and Virat Kohli has not returned favourable results for the franchise as they sit fifth on the table, just outside the top four who will play in the play-offs.
Glenn Maxwell, another RCB batter, is placed 11th on the current leading run-scorers’ list but the franchise still has to fight to win their remaining matches to qualify for the play-offs.
Is this all a coincidence?
Well, the simple answer is – No.
The Kolkata Knight Riders find themselves in a similar position as that of the Du Plessis-led RCB.
They have both Rinku Singh and Nitish Rana in the current top 10 leading run-scorers but are placed seventh on the table and need other teams’ results to go their way to qualify for the play-offs.
What has made the defending champions successful thus far this season has been the fact that they embody the ‘bowlers win you titles’ notion.
Almost every bowler that has come on for the Titans has been a genuine wicket-taking option to an extent that even fringe bowlers such as Mohit Sharma are taking wickets at regular intervals this season.
The excellent bowling unit, coupled with the best finishers in T20 cricket in Miller, Pandya and Shubman Gill to name a few, make the Gujarat Titans look set to retain their title.
With South Africa having qualified for the 50-over World Cup, these are the two strategies they will have to look into and perhaps take on board going into Indian conditions.