IPL 2022: Kevin Pietersen Compares Hardik Pandya-Led Gujarat Titans With Rajasthan Royals Of 2008

Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural season of IPL under late Shane Warne. Gujarat Titans have been by far the best team in IPL 2022.

Leading an IPL franchise for 1st time, Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya got full marks so far.

Former England skipper Kevin Pietersen sees shades of the title-winning Rajasthan Royals side of 2008 in Gujarat Titans, who have consistently found ways to win matches in the ongoing IPL 2022. Gujarat Titans have won seven of their first eight games so far in their debut season.  

The former swashbuckling batter feels the new entrants, like the 2008 RR side under the late Shane Warne, aren't the best team on paper but have a ‘great mentality’. Led by India all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Gujarat Titans have emerged as the ‘team to beat’ and are on top of the points table.

“At the moment, it looks like Gujarat Titans are going to be difficult to stop in the IPL. I didn't see them being at the top of the table when I first saw their squad, but they are on a roll,” Pietersen wrote for Betway.

“It reminds me of Rajasthan Royals when they won the title under Shane Warne in 2008 – they weren't the best side on paper but everybody knew what they were doing and they had a great mentality,” he added.

The Titans, who looked thin on resources in the run-up to the season, have had different players winning games for them. “They are consistently finding ways to win, whether from a good, middling or bad position in games. When you have that winning mentality, it becomes very difficult to break.

“They're not inhibited. They're just doing what feels right instinctively. Look at Rashid Khan when he got them over the line against Sunrisers Hyderabad the other night. He just had this positive attitude and was able to pull it off.”

Horrible State Of Affairs For KKR

In a bid to find the right combination, Kolkata Knight Riders have used 19 players in nine games this season and Pietersen feels it's "far too many", adding that the former champions' dressing room is filled with negative energy.

KKR have used four different opening combinations in this edition but that didn't bear fruit as the team suffered its fifth loss on the trot earlier this week to lie seventh on the points table. Skipper Shreyas Iyer and pacer Tim Southee have also admitted that chopping and changing isn't ideal but the former champions have no other option.

“I know that Mumbai Indians are having a shocker, but KKR are also in a dreadful way. They won three of their first four games and have totally lost it since then,” Pietersen said. “They've used 19 players so far, which is far too many. For a franchise as big as them, it's just a horrible state of affairs.

“That is a dressing room full of the opposite energy to Gujarat: negative, negative, negative.” Pietersen feels the former champions lack the "out of the box, innovative thinking" that led them to the finals last season.

“Last year, that run to the final was defined by out-of-the-box thinking. They had their analyst, Nathan Leamon, front and centre, sending signals out to the middle, and they seemed really innovative.”