Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers has opined that Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya should bat at No.5 in the batting order in IPL 2023.
Hardik was the highest run-scorer for the Titans in their title success last season, scoring 487 runs in 15 matches at a strike rate of 131.26, including four half-centuries.
Hardik Pandya promoted himself up the batting order rather than slotting in the lower middle order. The Titans skipper batted at No. 4 in 12 out of 15 innings in IPL 2022 and that allowed him to bat with a free mindset.
However, AB de Villiers, a veteran of 184 IPL matches for Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore, wants Hardik Pandya to push down to No. 5 and slot David Miller at No. 4 with all-rounder Rahul Tewatia at No. 6.
De Villiers said on Jio Cinema:
“Hardik Pandya batting at No.4 in my opinion is a little high. In an ideal world, I would like to have him at No.5 or 6. But I think No.5 is the perfect position for him. If it can balance out with the right-left (combination) and the match situation, I don’t think there is a better position for him.”
“You have got David Miller around him, Tewatia and Rashid Khan down the order at 7. I would like to see them break up the two lefties. Have Hardik at No.5, Miller at No.4 and Tewatia at No.6.”
The Titans retained 18 out of 25 players from their victorious squad last season and released five players. The CVC Capitals-owned franchise traded Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Lockie Ferguson to Kolkata Knight Riders ahead of the auction.
De Villiers said that GT have a balanced squad in the batting and bowling departments and are likely to cement their position at the top of the table.
“Balance is the key. They have a match-winning and tournament-winning bowling attack. Also very experienced with a mix of youth in their batting line-up. They were no surprise to me when I saw them in the final last year. It will not surprise me to see them at the top again.”
“The other teams will be coming for them” AB de Villiers on Hardik Pandya & Co.
Gujarat Titans stunned everyone with their phenomenal success in IPL 2022 with a young pool of talent and a few experienced campaigners.
The Hardik Pandya-led side won 10 out of 14 league matches last season to top the points table and defeated Rajasthan Royals twice in the playoffs, including a seven-wicket win in the final.
Speaking on the pressure Gujarat Titans will have to defend the cup in IPL 2023, de Villiers explained:
“Whenever you do well, especially in a big tournament like this or as an individual. When you have back-to-back performances, there is something you call expectation. The Gujarat Titans fans will be expecting them to go out and do it again. The other teams will be coming for them.”
Gujarat will play the IPL 2023 opener against Chennai Super Kings on Friday (March 31) at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.