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Gujarat Titans sign Rahmanullah Gurbaz as Jason Roy's replacement

He will be the third Afghanistan player at the franchise alongside Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad

Nagraj Gollapudi
Rahmanullah Gurbaz will be a back-up for Australian wicketkeeper-batter Matthew Wade  •  Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images

Rahmanullah Gurbaz will be a back-up for Australian wicketkeeper-batter Matthew Wade  •  Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images

Rahmanullah Gurbaz will become the third Afghanistan player at Gujarat Titans who have signed the wicketkeeper-batter for IPL 2022 as a replacement for England opener Jason Roy.
One day prior to the official announcement, ESPNcricinfo learned that Gurbaz, who went unsold at the IPL auction in February, has been picked at his base price of INR 50 lakh (approx $66,000) for one season. For the 20-year-old, it will be his first IPL stint.
Titans, who will make their IPL debut along with Lucknow Super Giants this season, were forced to scamper for a replacement after Roy pulled out last month, citing the challenge of staying in the tournament bubble for an extended period. Roy, who has taken an indefinite break from cricket, was bought by Titans at the auction for his base price of INR 2 crore (approx $266,000).
Gurbaz will be joining Afghanistan pair of Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad at Titans. While Rashid had been acquired by the franchise pre-auction, Noor, who recently featured in the Under-19 World Cup, was bought at the auction.
Gurbaz will be a back-up for Australian wicketkeeper-batter Matthew Wade, who is likely to open alongside Shubman Gill. It is understood Gurbaz was part of the shortlist of contenders Titans considered as Roy's replacement. The list also included Australian batter Ben McDermott, who recently hit his maiden T20I half-century during the home series against Sri Lanka after having finished as the leading run scorer in the 2021-22 BBL. However, availability was a hurdle in McDermott's case, so Titans settled for Gurbaz, who has been impressive since he first made headlines at the 2018 Under-19 World Cup where he played a key role in Afghanistan reaching the semi-final.
Since September 2019, among 65 players who have scored 1500-plus T20 runs, Gurbaz's has the eighth-highest strike rate (153.05). A hard-hitting batter who can play shots all around the ground, Gurbaz struck a 24-ball 43 on his T20I debut, a 19-ball 50 on his BPL debut and a 22-ball 53 on his Lanka Premier League debut. On his ODI debut, he made a run-a-ball 127 and has three hundreds in nine matches in the format.
Vikram Solanki, the Titans' director of cricket, said on Wednesday*, "Whilst it is disappointing that Jason will not be a part of our campaign this year, we are mindful of the health and well-being of players in these times. We wish Jason well and look forward to his return to the field. Rahmanullah Gurbaz is one of the promising young batters to emerge from Afghanistan and we believe he is an ideal replacement for Jason. Gurbaz is an attacking batter and fits into our plans for the Gujarat Titans. He has given a good account of his talent in international cricket and a few tournaments around the globe."
Titans' camp in Ahmedabad
Titans' squad along with their coaching staff will assemble in Ahmedabad on March 13 for a preparatory camp at the Narendra Modi Stadium. The camp will be prefaced by the mandatory three-day quarantine, and is understood to start from March 17 and last till March 24. Titans' contingent will then head to Mumbai for their first match on March 28 against Super Giants.
All key players including Titans' captain Hardik Pandya along with the coaching staff, led by team director Vikram Solanki, head coach Ashish Nehra and assistant coach Gary Kirsten, will be present at the camp. It is understood that South Africa batter David Miller will join Titans directly in Mumbai after the white-ball series at home against Bangladesh.
This main camp follows a short camp Titans conducted in Vadodara, which was attended by just five Indian players under the supervision of Nehra. Along with Pandya, the other four players were Varun Aaron, Rahul Tewatia, young Karnataka batter Abhinav Manohar and Vidarbha fast bowler Darshan Nalkande.
With inputs from Sampath Bandarupalli
1425 GMT March 9 This copy was updated with an official announcement from Gujarat Titans

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo