LSG, RR poised for a contest in the middle phase

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Upon their return to Lucknow, the Lucknow Super Giants surely carried a sense of determination and vigor. Rarely does one outmatch CSK in Chennai, keeping pace with them throughout and outmaneuvering them in the final moments. It’s the type of victory that can invigorate a team striving for the playoffs, yet their upcoming home fixture comes with a word of caution. It’s not only about facing formidable opponents but also about the complexities of the pitch they’ll play on.

LSG, much like CSK this season, have proven formidable in their home environment. Except for one occasion earlier, when the Delhi Capitals successfully chased their target. Rajasthan Royals, aiming to secure a playoff berth by the end of Saturday, will be intrigued by the fact that the pitch for this match mirrors the one used in the Delhi encounter – a pitch composed of black soil that witnessed LSG’s struggle in the middle overs. In the ten overs post-PowerPlay during that match, LSG managed only 64/5 and ultimately reached a below-par total. Kuldeep Yadav was instrumental on that occasion, bamboozling Marcus Stoinis and Nicholas Pooran with successive deliveries – the key figures in the Chennai showdown.

Coincidentally, LSG’s assistant coach Sridharan Sriram mentioned on the eve of the match that spinners must possess the ability to generate spin in both directions to avoid predictability and prevent being taken advantage of in the middle overs, where batters have consistently dominated this season. It’s now up to the likes of R Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi to showcase their repertoire of variations and deceptive deliveries during this phase to influence the course of the game. Yuzvendra Chahal could also benefit from incorporating more googlies into his repertoire, particularly against a batsman like Pooran, who can inflict damage during the latter stages of the innings.

The statistics for the middle overs (overs 7-16) this season present an intriguing narrative. RR has maintained a superior strike rate (144.76 compared to LSG’s 138.79), while LSG has been more economical with the ball (an economy rate of 8.23 compared to RR’s 8.92). Anticipate a captivating battle during the middle overs.

When: Lucknow Super Giants vs Rajasthan Royals, April 27, 2024, 07:30 PM IST

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

What to anticipate: A high-scoring affair? The match on Saturday will be contested on one of the four black soil pitches at the venue. It’s the same pitch where LSG relied on Ayush Badoni’s aggressive 35-ball 55 to recover from a precarious position of 94/7 in their defeat to DC.

Head to head: RR 3 – 1 LSG. Winners in all these encounters batted first.

Team Watch

Lucknow Super Giants

Injuries/Availability: Mayank Yadav bowled at full intensity on the eve of the match. LSG remained discreet regarding his availability, with Sriram suggesting “he’s quite close” to making a return.

Tactics & Matchups:

Should Mayank be fit to return to the XI, LSG could opt for one of two approaches – replacing him with either Mohsin Khan or Yash Thakur, or opting for an all-Indian pace attack and accommodating Kyle Mayers as the fourth overseas player in place of the struggling Devdutt Padikkal. Mayers presents a favorable matchup against Yuzvendra Chahal, whom he has attacked for 23 runs in 10 balls in the IPL. While Stoinis excelled at #3 and scored a century in Chennai, Mayers’ inclusion would provide LSG with a dynamic and flexible 3-4-5 batting lineup (Stoinis-Mayers-Pooran).

Probable XI: Quinton de Kock, KL Rahul, Devdutt Padikkal/Kyle Mayers, Marcus Stoinis, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda, Ayush Badoni, Krunal Pandya, Ravi Bishnoi, Matt Henry/Mohsin Khan, Yash Thakur [Impact substitute: Mayank Yadav]

Rajasthan Royals

Injuries/Availability: No injury concerns for the table-topping team

Tactics & Matchups:

Trent Boult will relish the opportunity to bowl to several LSG batsmen – Quinton de Kock, Ayush Badoni, Devdutt Padikkal – who have struggled against left-arm fast bowlers this season. His battle against KL Rahul, however, may favor the batsman. The LSG captain has thrived against left-arm pacers this season, scoring at 168.75 [108 Runs | 64 balls]. Against Boult in the IPL, he has scored 92 runs in 62 balls at 148.4 but has been dismissed twice. On the other hand, Sandeep Sharma has troubled both of LSG’s openers. Quinton De Kock has scored 43 runs off 35 balls – with two dismissals – against the paceman, while Rahul, who has silenced concerns about his strike rate this season, has scored at a mere 113.1 against him [83 balls | 73 runs | 1 dismissal].

Ashwin has been expensive and wicketless in the last six matches, but his dominance over Stoinis and Pooran could turn the tide. Stoinis has struggled against the off-spinner in the IPL, managing only 23 runs off 27 balls with one dismissal. Pooran has scored 25 runs off an equal number of balls with one dismissal. Even Chahal could pose a threat to the Australian, who has fallen victim to spinners five times this season.

Probable XI: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson, Riyan Parag, Dhruv Jurel, Shimron Hetmyer, Rovman Powell, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Yuzvendra Chahal [Impact Substitute: Jos Buttler]

Did you know?

  • Nicholas Pooran has struck nine fours and 11 sixes in the death overs this season [129 runs in 72 balls @ 179.16].
  • Sanju Samson has scored the majority of his runs at home this season, at an impressive strike rate. Away from home, he has managed just 42 runs in three innings.
  • Ravi Bishnoi has claimed 13 wickets in 11 matches in Lucknow and has maintained an economy rate of just 7.40.

What they said:

“I find him to be a well-grounded individual. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him for the past month or so. He appears to be quite mature and has a good understanding of his body, which is commendable for a young, novice fast bowler. Hailing from Delhi, he brings with him a cricketing culture and a sense of self-awareness. His execution has been exemplary, more so than his

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