Ashish Nehra: Gujarat Titans here to win, not just to participate

When Gujarat Titans made its debut in the Indian Premier League last season, there were apprehensions over its team combination. But under Hardik Pandya’s leadership, the team went on to win the title, defeating Rajasthan Royals in the final at the Narendra Modi International Stadium in Ahmedabad.

As another season beckons, Gujarat Titans head coach Ashish Nehra believes that the team’s strategy will be no different this time around. “If you did not win the first season, you would still want to win a tournament every year. As a team, nobody is here to participate, everybody is here to win. That’s the beauty of not just the IPL, but the sport overall,” Nehra told  Sportstar during a meet and greet here on Friday.

“We will try to do what we did the last time but in the end, we also need to accept there will be one winner. With more teams, IPL is a difficult tournament and here the margin between a defeat and a victory is very less. There have been times when teams have not even qualified despite doing well. And that competitiveness makes this sport great…” the former India fast bowler said.

Last season, Nehra was the head coach of the side, while India’s 2011 World Cup-winning coach Gary Kirsten was the mentor and ahead of the new season, Nehra said that the support staff will ‘almost remain the same’.

The Titans have released six players with four overseas omissions before the scheduled mini-auction in Kochi on December 23. The side has let go of Jason Roy, Dominic Drakes, Varun Aaron, and Gurkeerat Singh, while Lockie Ferguson and Rahmanullah Gurbaz were traded to Kolkata Knight Riders.

On the changes in the player pool, Nehra said, “We are talking about a squad of 22 or 23 players, and you make changes keeping the needs of the team in mind. Teams like Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, who have won four to five times each over the last 14 years, have also made changes to its squad in the past. In our case, we need fast bowlers. Similarly, some other teams might need something else. So, in these smaller auctions, you bring in players according to your requirements. We are no different…”

With not many slots available, it would be interesting to see what strategy the Titans adopt in the auction. “We have not released too many players and even for domestic players, only 2-3 slots are available. We need to see who all are available in the auction and plan accordingly. In the auction, you are not the only team, there are nine others, so it all depends on the purse, who’s available and also the strategy…”

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