Priyank Panchal Likely To Join Gujarat Titans As A Backup Player

Priyank Panchal. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Priyank Panchal. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Priyank Panchal, Gujarat captain is likely to join Indian Premier League (IPL) debutants Gujarat Titans as a backup player soon, a reliable source said on Saturday. The Ahmedabad-based franchise will begin their maiden IPL 2022 campaign with a clash against fellow debutants Lucknow Super Giants at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on 28th March. The past few months have been quite eventful for the right-handed opener.

After leading India A in two of the three unofficial Tests against South Africa A in South Africa late last year, Priyank Panchal was named as a replacement for Rohit Sharma, who was ruled out of the three-match Test series in the Rainbow Nation due to a hamstring injury.

Priyank Panchal has been a heavy scorer for Gujarat and India A. (Priyank Panchal/Instagram)
Priyank Panchal has been a heavy scorer for Gujarat and India A. (Priyank Panchal/Instagram)

Priyank Panchal Learnt A Lot From The Experience Of Sharing Dressing Room With Indian Team

Despite not getting a game, he “learnt a lot” from the experience of sharing the Indian dressing room with the likes of former captain Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and Jasprit Bumrah.

In an exclusive chat in February, Priyank Panchal said: “Talking about the Indian Test team, I’ve learnt a lot from the experience because it was a bit different from the India A experience. But I would say that the quality of cricket [between India A and India] is not very different because we face almost the same bowlers. I hope to get my Test cap soon.”

Though yet to receive his maiden Test cap, opener Priyank Panchal also featured in India’s 18-member Test squad for the recently concluded home series against Sri Lanka, which the hosts won 2-0. In addition, he scored a first-innings fifty (52 off 63 deliveries) in Gujarat’s Ranji Trophy 2021-22 campaign opener against Madhya Pradesh in Rajkot last month. It was his only Ranji Trophy match this season.

Gujarat's captain Priyank Panchal celebrates his century during a Ranji Trophy cricket match against Mumbai.(PTI)
Gujarat’s captain Priyank Panchal celebrates his century during a Ranji Trophy cricket match against Mumbai. (PTI)

Notwithstanding his success in first-class cricket, Priyank Panchal’s limited-overs performances have gone largely unnoticed. The 31-year-old missed out on an IPL contract at last month’s mega auction in Bengaluru despite stacking up healthy numbers in T20 cricket. In the latest edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Priyank Panchal scored 188 runs in five innings at a strike-rate of 135.25.

Priyank Panchal Reckons His Limited Overs Batting Has Improved A Lot Over Past 2-3 Years

Pigeonholed as a “red-ball specialist” until a few years ago, Priyank Panchal has broken the stereotype with a revamped batting approach that hinges on power-hitting and newfound confidence. Priyank Panchal elaborated on what he has done differently to achieve white-ball success.

He said: “My limited-overs batting has improved a lot over the past two to three years, and the stats prove that. I got the results in last year’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy. I was amazed to see that I was able to score runs at a good strike-rate in T20 cricket.”

Hardik Pandya at GT jersey launch. Photo- Twitter
Hardik Pandya at GT jersey launch. Photo- Twitter

Priyank Panchal also thanked former Indian wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel for infusing confidence in him.

When asked what it would mean for him to be picked by Gujarat Titans at the auction, Panchal said:  “I would love to play for any of the ten franchises, but being picked by the Gujarat franchise will be the cherry on top.”

The IPL is a platform where dreams come true. Under Ashish Nehra’s tutelage and Hardik Pandya’s leadership at Gujarat Titans, Priyank Panchal will look to make the most of his maiden IPL sojourn.

With a First-Class experience of 100 matches, Priyank Panchal has scored over 7000 runs including 24 centuries and 25 fifties, including a best of 314 not out, which he amassed against Punjab in a breakout 2016-17 season. Gujarat Titans had also roped in Indian opening batter Shubman Gill and Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan in its initial draft signings.

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