Welcome to the madness (officially), Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants. In the battle of the newbies, there’s a lot to look forward to: star-studded line-ups, big-name captains, superb bowling (plus brothers who have been inseparable since 2016 now in opposite XIs).
The only issue for Super Giants is that they will not be able to field a full-strength team as yet. England quick Mark Wood has been ruled out of the entire season with an elbow injury, with Australian Andrew Tye replacing him. Marcus Stoinis, Jason Holder and Kyle Mayers are also expected to be available only after the first week of the IPL due to their respective national commitments. They have to make do with the back-ups, but they do have a number of talented IPL names in Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Ravi Bishnoi and Avesh Khan. Their biggest strength, however, is their opening pair of KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock.
As for Titans, Jason Roy’s withdrawal may have put their plans in disarray. They have roped in Rahmanullah Gurbaz as his replacement but they do have the option to bring in Matthew Wade to open alongside Shubman Gill. Get ready to wow at their bowling attack: Rashid Khan, Lockie Ferguson, Mohammed Shami. And with Rahul Tewatia, R Sai Kishore available to bowl when needed, they easily have one of the strongest bowling departments in the tournament. Whether Hardik will bowl or not remains a mystery, with Titans’ head coach Ashish Nehra saying “in any T20 squad, I will take Hardik Pandya as a pure batter.”
The one issue which could possibly be a concern for both teams is their respective middle orders. Super Giants do have Krunal and Titans have Tewatia and Miller, but these players haven’t always been consistent. Titans have Hardik too, but he hasn’t played since November last year.
Gujarat Titans: 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Matthew Wade (wk), 3 Wriddhiman Saha/Vijay Shankar, 4 Abhinav Manohar, 5 David Miller, 6 Hardik Pandya (capt), 7 Rahul Tewatia, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 R Sai Kishore, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Mohammed Shami
Lucknow Super Giants: 1 KL Rahul (capt), 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Manish Pandey, 4 Deepak Hooda, 5 Manan Vohra, 6 Krunal Pandya, 7 Ankit Rajpoot, 8 K Gowtham, 9 Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Avesh Khan
Rashid is a big threat to any batter in the world and he can be specifically brought in to bowl when Rahul is at the crease. Rahul has faced 43 balls of Rashid and has been dismissed thrice, having scored just 33 runs at a strike rate of 77 against him.
Stats that matter
In T20s since 2020, 14 out of 20 matches have been won by the chasing team at the Wankhede Stadium.
Miller needs 26 more to tally 2000 runs in the IPL.
Hardik is two big hits away from tallying 100 sixes in the IPL.
Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo