LSG Hopes to Continue Their Winning Streak Against DC.

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Apart from Rishabh Pant‘s heroic return from a life-threatening injury, nothing much has gone right for Delhi Capitals this season so far. Even the left-hander’s form hasn’t been over the roof, which is understandable given the obstacles he had to overcome to return to competitive sports. But time is running out for DC, who have just one win to show from five games. From here on, every defeat will push them closer to the elimination zone.

Quite a lot of things have gone wrong in Delhi, scattered across all departments. For starters, the absence of Prithvi Shaw for the initial games defied logic, and the young opener has made a statement with a couple of strong knocks, including a fifty against the Mumbai Indians last game. The bowling has lacked consistency, and the injury to Mukesh Kumar has weakened the attack to some extent. Mitchell Marsh’s injury is the latest blow for DC, whose only complete performance was the game against the Chennai Super Kings.

On the other hand, Lucknow Super Giants have quietly gotten on a roll. The tournament started on a sour note for them with a loss to the Rajasthan Royals, but they have since won three games on the bounce. Two of those wins came in their den at Lucknow. The batting is yet to click in full swing, but the bowling attack has made up for that. Mayank Yadav has grabbed headlines with his raw pace, but the other bowlers have also been on the mark, notably Krunal Pandya. Skipper KL Rahul is yet to fire, and the fact that they have still won three in four games will boost LSG’s morale.

Like every ambitious team, Lucknow’s focus will be to make the Ekana Cricket Stadium a fortress. The two wins have come with a fair measure of comfort for LSG, with their bowlers calling the shots. It helps that the pitches have also assisted the bowlers, particularly the pacers. It is something that will give relief to the DC camp as well, given the kind of bowling attack that they possess. There are some free-stroking players on both sides who aren’t quite in form yet, so this game could give them an opportunity to make a statement. If DC can get their strategies and team selection on point, this could be a cracking fixture.

When: Friday, April 12 at 19:30 IST

Where: Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow

What to expect:

The opening home game for LSG saw a refreshing surface that aided strokeplay. There was a good level of pace and bounce in that deck, allowing batters to express themselves. However, the pitch used for the GT game was more like the Ekana surface of last season, when the average score batting first was just 148. Depending on whether it’s a black or red soil deck, the nature of the pitch will change, although it’s likely to be another sporting surface where the bowlers will be in the game throughout.

Head-to-head: Lucknow Super Giants have a thumping 3-0 lead over Delhi Capitals.

Team watch:

Lucknow Super Giants

Injury/Availability: Mohsin Khan is in line to return to the playing XI after having been sidelined with a sore back. Mayank Yadav is ruled out for the week as the think tank continues to monitor his workload.

Tactics and matchups: Krunal Pandya has been sensational during the middle overs (7-15) this season, going at a very frugal economy rate of 4.98. Against DC, Krunal leads the charts amongst wickets taken in LSG’s bowling attack. The left-arm spinner is also the second-highest wicket-taker at Ekana and has the best economy among all bowlers. However, he does have unfavourable matchups against David Warner, Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant. How Krunal fares in this fixture could be decisive to LSG’s bowling plans. In terms of team changes, Mohsin should slot in for Mayank.

Probable XI: KL Rahul (c), Quinton de Kock, Marcus Stoinis, Devdutt Padikkal, Nicholas Pooran, Ayush Badoni, Krunal Pandya, Yash Thakur, Ravi Bishnoi, Naveen-ul-Haq, and M Siddharth. [Impact sub: Mohsin Khan]

Delhi Capitals

Injury/Availability: There remains no clarity on Kuldeep Yadav’s return after the wrist spinner picked up a groin injury last week. Mukesh Kumar and Mitchell Marsh are also on the sidelines for the moment, although the latter is said to be making rapid strides towards a comeback.

Tactics and matchups:

David Warner hasn’t had many big scores yet but has been a strong influence in the powerplay this season, striking at 157.53 in the first six overs. The Australian notched up a fifty in the only game he has played at Ekana Cricket Stadium. Warner’s form will be crucial against LSG’s potent bowling attack. DC might be tempted to give Anrich Nortje a break, given the South African’s struggles this season. They have the option of strengthening the batting with Jake Fraser-McGurk but that would mean punting with an extra Indian seamer. Sumit Kumar or Rasikh Dar could get back into the XI.

Probable XI: David Warner, Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, Tristan Stubbs, Abishek Porel, Lalit Yadav, Axar Patel, Jhye Richardson, Ishant Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed, and Rasikh Dar/Sumit Kumar. [Impact Sub: Jake Fraser McGurk]

Did you know?

Tristan Stubbs has a strike rate of 264.52 in the death overs (16-20) this season from a sample size of 31 deliveries

Khaleel Ahmed has been extremely tidy in the powerplay, with an economy of just 6.64

What they said

“I think we need to improve on a few areas—death-over bowling and our batting as well.” Rishabh Pant

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