The Titans started the tournament with four frontline bowlers, with Hardik Pandya as their fifth bowler. However, they opted to play five specialist bowlers once their skipper had a slight injury concern midway through the tournament.
While reflecting on the reasons behind the Gujarat Titans' success during a discussion on India News, Saba lauded Ashish Nehra and the franchise for opting for a bowling-heavy approach. He said:
"If your team's coach is a pace bowler, his attempt is to play five specialist bowlers in his XI, and Ashish Nehra and Gujarat Titans have always done that."
While acknowledging that the tactic made their batting seem slightly thin, the former Indian cricketer pointed out that the bowlers made up for that deficiency. Saba explained:
"Because of that, we were feeling that their batting has become slightly weak but their bowlers compensated for that. If you see every match, whether the final or the one before that, they played five specialist bowlers and on top of that, if Hardik Pandya is fit and bowling four overs, you have so many options."
Saba even advised Team India to follow a similar approach and use Hardik only as a sixth bowler. He reasoned that the batters would take greater responsibility in such a scenario, helping the team's cause.
"All three retained players proved match-winners for Gujarat Titans" - Saba Karim
Saba Karim was also asked if the Titans' three draft picks - Hardik, Rashid Khan and Shubman Gill - performing well was a big reason for their success. He responded:
"Absolutely right. The teams whose retained players performed well, their three or four players were permanent, they were their match-winners. All three retained players proved match-winners for Gujarat Titans."
The Delhi Capitals' (DC) head of talent search cited the example of the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) and his own side to substantiate his point. Karim observed:
"If we talk about Lucknow Super Giants, KL Rahul performed exceedingly well but Marcus Stoinis didn't perform as he did for the Delhi Capitals. If we talk about Delhi Capitals, we retained Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Nortje and Prithvi Shaw. Other than Axar Patel, who did decently well as an all-rounder, others did not do that well."
Hardik (487 runs) and Gill (483 runs) shone with the bat for the Titans. While Rashid Khan scalped 19 wickets and was extremely economical, the GT skipper also picked up crucial wickets with the ball, especially in the final.
Poll : Was the Gujarat Titans' excellent draft picks a big reason for their success in IPL 2022?