The 15th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) came to a conclusion as Gujarat Titans lifted the coveted trophy in their debut season. The team led by Indian all-rounder, Hardik Pandya, shocked the cricketing fraternity by going all the way in their first season in the competition.
Just like Gujarat, Lahore Qalandars were considered the underdogs in the recently concluded Pakistan Super League (PSL) 7. With a new captain in charge, very few people gave them a chance to lift their first title in 7 attempts. They too shocked the cricketing community as they went on to win the coveted prize.
While franchise T20 cricket is heavily invested in data and analytics these days, these two teams showcased that only relying on data can sometimes backfire as well.
The likes of Multan Sultans and Islamabad United, who rely heavily on data, ultimately failed to get over the line as they were beaten by Lahore Qalandars in the final stages of the tournament. Similarly, Gujarat blew away their competition as they finished at the top of the table in the group stages and went on to win the final.
The champions of the two of the biggest franchise T20 leagues in the world also shared one common factor, the brilliant Rashid Khan.
Rashid, regarded as one of the finest T20 players in the world, played an influential role for both the teams with bat and ball as they went on to win their first trophies. While Rashid was unavailable for Lahore at the latter stages of the tournament due to international commitments, his contributions throughout the campaign cannot be underestimated.
Let’s have a look at the team composition of both the sides:
Qalandars decided to stick with their experienced performers while adding fresh quality to their star-studded line-up. The likes of Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, David Wiese, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, and Rashid Khan were retained as they formed the spine of their squad. They added in quality young players such as Abdullah Shafique, Kamran Ghulam, and Zaman Khan to form a solid unit.
Lahore also added quality foreign players such as Phil Salt and Harry Brook which provided them with a host of options throughout the tournament.
The opening pair of Abdullah Shafique and Fakhar Zaman showcased their class in the tournament as they formed a well-balanced opening partnership. Fakhar Zaman in particular was magnificent throughout the tournament as he finished as the top run-scorer. Fakhar scored 588 runs at an average of 45.23 and a strike rate of 152.72 in 13 matches he played in the tournament.
The calming influence of Mohammad Hafeez coupled with the exuberance of Kamran Ghulam proved to form a solid middle-order while the introduction of young Harry Brook changed the whole outlook of Lahore’s batting unit. Brook provided them with the impetus to score big, an aspect they lacked in the previous editions.
All-rounder, David Wiese proved his worth both with bat and ball as he rose to the occasion multiple times and secured unlikely wins for Qalandars. Wiese provided the perfect balance as Lahore formed one of the strongest line-ups in the tournament.
Lahore’s biggest asset was a world-class bowling unit. Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Zaman Khan, and Rashid Khan formed a fearsome bowling unit, perhaps the best in franchise cricket in the world. While Shaheen, Rashid, and Haris are renowned for their exploits in T20 cricket, Zaman Khan’s introduction completely changed the outlook of the entire squad. Zaman was named as the emerging player of the tournament for his numerous match-winning performances.
Lahore Qalandars Squad
At the conclusion of the IPL 2022 mega auction, no one would have imagined that Gujarat would qualify for the playoffs, let alone win the championship. The squad consisted of some quality players such as Rashid Khan, Hardik Pandya, Mohammad Shami, and David Miller but lacked star quality in comparison to other teams in the competition.
The opening partners, Wriddhiman Saha and Shubman Gill, quality players in their own right, failed to ignite the imagination on paper but delivered when it mattered for the team. Matthew Wade, fresh from his 2021 T20 World Cup heroics was considered one of the game-changers for Gujarat but he failed to perform up to the expectations.
Then came in the captain, Hardik Pandya, their top run-scorer this season. Pandya led from the front and took on the responsibility, scoring heavily throughout the campaign. With David Miller and Rashid Khan coming in lower down the order to provide the fireworks, Pandya’s contribution in the middle of the pack proved to be crucial.
Miller, who had been disappointing, to say the least in his previous outings in IPL, had a point to prove. His game against spin bowling was particularly impressive as he took on the charge in the latter part of the innings. As for Rashid Khan, he came in and performed right up to his expectations, both with bat and ball.
The bowling unit exceeded expectations as well. Mohammad Shami and Rashid Khan were the trump cards while the likes of Alzarri Joseph, Lockie Ferguson, Sai Kishore, and Yash Dayal provided able support throughout the tournament.
Gujarat Titans SquadHardik Pandya (c)Rashid KhanShubman GillAbhinav ManoharDavid MillerRahmanullah GurbazMatthew WadeWriddhiman SahaB Sai SudharsanDarshan NalkandeDominic DrakesGurkeerat Mann SinghJayant YadavPradeep SangwanRahul TewatiaVijay ShankarAlzarri JosephLockie FergusonMohammad ShamiNoor AhmedSai KishoreVarun AaronYash Dayal
Lahore’s top run-scorer in PSL 7 was the swashbuckling opener, Fakhar Zaman. He scored 588 runs at an average of 45.23 and a strike rate of 152.72 in 13 innings in the tournament.
Gujarat’s highest run-scorer was all-rounder Hardik Pandya. He scored 487 runs at an average of 44.27 and a strike rate of 131.26 in 15 innings in the tournament.TeamPlayerInningsRunsAverageStrike Rate6sLahore QalandarsFakhar Zaman1358845.23152.7220Gujarat TitansHardik Pandya1548744.27131.2612
Lahore’s highest wicket-taker was their captain Shaheen Afridi, who also finished as the tournament’s best bowler. Shaheen took 20 wickets at an average of 19.70 and an economy rate of 7.57 in 13 matches.
Gujarat’s highest wicket-taker was Mohammad Shami who picked up 20 wickets at an average of 24.40 and an economy rate of 8.00 in 16 matches.TeamPlayerInningsWicketsAverageEconomyBest FiguresLahore QalandarsShaheen Afridi132019.707.573/30Gujarat TitansMohammad Shami162024.498.003/25
Lahore Qalandars won 8 and lost 5 in the 13 matches they played in the tournament. They won 6 in the group stages as they finished in the second spot in the points table.
Gujarat Titans finished at the top of the table after winning 10 of the 14 group stage matches. They went on to win 2 more in the playoffs as they won a total of 12 matches and lost 4 in the 16 matches they played in the tournament.TeamMatches PlayedWonLostLahore Qalandars1385Gujarat Titans16124
The two teams headed into the tournament with a similar philosophy and their performances throughout the tournament were similar as well. With well-balanced squads and a lot of star quality, the match between the two sides would prove to be intriguing. The question remains, who would come out on top if Lahore and Gujarat locked horns in a one-off tie.
Who would win a match between Lahore Qalandars and Gujarat Titans? Share your thoughts below!