Anchors Away: Gujarat Titans’ Becalmed by Lack of Middle-Order Power

GT’s middle-order has come under the scanner for their cautious approach. (Source:

At a time when there is talk about Virat Kohli’s place in the T20 World Cup squad – whether he should play in June or not, given the scrutiny of his approach and strike-rate – a team like Gujarat Titans (GT) are playing with several sheet anchors. This approach has cost them a few runs and possibly a win in their last game, against the Punjab Kings on home turf in Ahmedabad on Thursday night.

Although GT managed to put up a total of 199, which seemed likely to be enough given how well the Titans had defended targets in the past, a T20 batting masterclass from Shashank Singh and a brisk cameo from Ashutosh Sharma led Punjab’s response with the bat. GT were sloppy in the field, dropping as many as four catches. However, they didn’t lose solely because Shashank and Ashutosh were too good on the day or because they dropped catches. They also fell short by a few runs with the bat in the first innings.

The pitch looked flat, with batters hitting through the line without much difficulty. On that kind of wicket, 200 is a safe total but not necessarily a match-winning one. GT badly missed the services of David Miller. In Miller’s absence, GT brought in Kane Williamson. It was a baffling decision really. Nothing against Williamson who is a world-class player, but there were already several batters who bat at his pace in GT’s XI. Yesterday, the Titans played with as many as four batters who bat at a strike-rate of less than 140. There’s no benchmark set in T20 cricket as far as strike-rates are concerned, but if it’s not, then Kohli’s tempo in T20s shouldn’t be a point of discussion.

Shubman Gill, Williamson, Sai Sudharsan, and Vijay Shankar. This batting order didn’t seem like one that could dominate the opposition bowling, and indeed, they couldn’t. While Williamson and Sudharsan appeared to be settling into a batting rhythm during their stint at the crease, they both departed after getting starts. To exacerbate matters for GT, Shankar was sent in ahead of Rahul Tewatia. Shankar’s IPL strike-rate is just 131, and he could only muster 8 off 10 balls. In contrast, Tewatia provided much-needed impetus to the innings, scoring 23 off just 8.

Williamson came in during the powerplay, a phase where he has the lowest strike-rate among all IPL batters since 2022, registering under 80 (for batters who have faced more than 100 balls). While the former New Zealand skipper held up one end, he required other batters to attack the opposition bowling and increase the run-rate, a task accomplished by Tewatia. Williamson batted at a strike-rate of 118, while Shankar lagged behind at 80. This was where the game slipped away. If those two could have played with a strike-rate closer to 140 or above, PBKS would have been chasing a target of 220 or 230.

GT’s selection should be questioned. From the first game, Shankar hasn’t bowled a single over, which means he’s not playing as a pure all-rounder. So, is there any need to persist with him? Absolutely not. Especially when GT have power-hitters like Abhinav Manohar and Shahrukh Khan. If not both, at least one should play. The difference between the two teams last night was Punjab backing their uncapped power-hitting duo of Shashank and Ashutosh. On the other side, Abhinav and Shahrukh were warming the bench.

It’s still early days in the tournament, and GT can rectify the mistakes committed in the four games so far by better utilising their squad resources.

In the fast-paced world of T20 cricket, where every ball counts and momentum can swiftly shift, the traditional role of an anchor seems out of place. While anchors have long been revered in the longer formats for their ability to stabilise an innings and build partnerships, their effectiveness in T20 cricket is increasingly being questioned. Certainly, GT can’t afford two or three of them.

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