The Indian Premier League is one of the most competitive leagues in the world and when two new franchises, Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants debuted in the 2022 season, not many expected them to lift the trophy straight away. However, Gujarat Titans against all odds became champions in their inaugural season and played an exciting brand of cricket under the able leadership of Hardik Pandya.
As the preparation now begins for the 16th season of the IPL, the defending champions, Gujarat Titans have retained the core of their winning team. However, Titans have decided to let go of six players from their last year’s squad out of which two have been traded to Kolkata Knight Riders.
Here is the list of 6 players that have been released or traded by Gujarat Titans ahead of the auction for the 2023 season
The top name in this list is New Zealand pacer, Lockie Ferguson. The speedster was bought for INR 10 crore in the 2022 mega auction. However, Lockie Ferguson could not live up to his billing and with plenty of quality pacers already in their ranks, the Titans decided to trade Lockie Ferguson to Kolkata Knight Riders.
Ferguson played 13 matches for Gujarat in the 2022 season and picked 12 wickets which also included a four-wicket haul. However, Lockie was quite expensive, leaking runs at an economy rate of 8.96. Also, the rise of Alzarri Joseph who was quite impressive in the last season could have contributed to the decision of trading Ferguson. This decision opens up an overseas spot and also adds a good amount of bucks to Gujarat’s kitty ahead of the auction for the 2023 season.
The dashing wicketkeeper batter from Afghanistan has also been traded to Kolkata Knight Riders. He was drafted into the Gujarat squad as a replacement for Jason Roy but could not find a place in the playing XI. Also, the presence of wicketkeepers like Wriddhiman Saha and Matthew Wade who can both bat at the top of the order could have contributed to the decision of trading him.
The swashbuckling English opener who opted out of the 2022 season of the IPL has been released by Gujarat Titans. Roy is a potential match-winner on his day but his lack of form might be the reason for releasing him from the squad.
There are plenty of top-order options that would be available at the auction and the Gujarat management would have felt that they could explore that opportunity in the auction. Also, they can buy back Roy if needed, maybe this time at an even lower price.
Varun Aaron, who was once considered the fastest bowler in India, has struggled over the years to make his mark due to a lack of consistency and fitness issues. He was once touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket due to his sheer raw pace but unfortunately, that promise still remains unfulfilled.
Gujarat Titans bought him on the base price for the 2022 season despite his mediocre returns in the previous seasons. The idea probably was to use his sheer pace to rattle the opponents but was dropped from the side after two games, indicating a lack of confidence in team management in Aaron’s bowling.
In the two games he played, Aaron took two wickets but the issue which has always brought his downfall is the high economy rate. He leaked runs at the economy rate of 10.40 and with plenty of quality pace bowling options both domestic and foreign at their disposal, Aaron was sidelined. It was expected that Gujarat Titans would release him and that is exactly what they have done.
Gurkeerat Singh Mann
Gurkeerat Singh has also been released from the Titans squad after not playing a single game for Gujarat Titans in the last season. He has been one of the most consistent performers for Punjab over the years and even played three ODIs for India in 2016.
However, Gurkeerat could not make much impact at the international level and has also found himself warming the benches more often than not in IPL. It was the same case when he was bought by the Titans for the 2022 season. Young players like Sai Sudarshan and Abhinav Manohar were preferred ahead of him and his exclusion was on the expected lines.
Dominic Drakes is a talented seam-bowling all-rounder from the Caribbean. He is a left-arm seamer and a powerful hitter down the order. However, he failed to break into the playing XI of Gujarat Titans in the IPL 2022. Titans already have an accomplished bowling attack with no dearth of pace options and that has gone against Drakes in the trading window before the auction for IPL 2023.
The injury-prone nature of Drakes has also halted his progress and he missed out on the whole season of CPL 2022 because of the injury. Drakes though is a good player and can be an asset with his all-around options. However, Gujarat already has a strong pace attack and their lower-middler order also did a brilliant job in the last season. So, it has been a wise decision from the Gujarat Management to release Drakes and they can potentially buy a batter who can strengthen their top order going into the IPL 2023.
The biggest strength of Gujarat Titans in their inaugural season was the way they clicked as a unit. Their bowling department was one of the strongest in the tournament and in the batting department, it was the middle and lower-middle order that took them over the line more often than not.
However, they need to strengthen their top order to avoid putting extra pressure on the middle-order batters and the auction coming up for the 2023 season provides them a great chance to iron out the flaws and come up with an even stronger team in the 2023 season of the Indian Premier League.