IPL 2022: Lucknow turn giant killers with six-wicket win over CSK in high-scoring game

Chennai Super Kings posted 211 but ran out of quality bowling options by the end as Evin Lewis’ 55 off 23 led Lucknow Super Giants to a six-wicket victory.

Dew factor

At the Brabourne Stadium, as well as at Wankhede Stadium, the fielder can be four steps away on the edge of the boundary but the ball will still beat him more often than not, as the small and already quick outfield gets even quicker with the dew. On Thursday night, the moisture was so copious the ball had to be changed in the 16th over of the CSK innings. Fielders were causing little clouds of spray to fly when they went sprawling in the deep. As were the ropes used by groundsmen during the strategic timeouts to try and soak up some of the liquid. It is hard to be too harsh on how bowlers, fielders and fielding captains deliver in such conditions.

Could LSG have tried the bouncer more, for instance? Avesh Khan did ping Robin Uthappa on the helmet in the very first over, but probably too enthused by that, he also sent one flying over the keeper for four byes two deliveries later. The short boundaries, particularly those in the ‘V’, at the Cricket Club of India have to be a factor in determining how much the bouncer should be used. When Avesh bounced Moeen Ali, he was easily hooked over vacant fine leg for six.

If anything, perhaps this is what could be held just a bit against LSG captain KL Rahul. On a pitch where there was pace, bounce and the new ball especially was coming on, his two deep fielders in the powerplay were far too often caught too square. This is in hindsight, of course, but after a few fours, for instance, to fine leg that deep backward square leg could only watch, there was maybe a case for moving the boundary riders finer. Or at least pushing the bowlers to bowl more to their field. As a result, CSK surged to 73 for 1 in the powerplay; LSG didn’t do badly, but they were still somewhat behind at 55 for 0.

Lewis’s clean hitting

Evin Lewis’s push helped LSG pull in front. CSK were going full trying to deny the batsmen the space to get under the ball but whenever they missed by inches, the Trinidadian left-hander either squeezed them square on the off side for fours or belted them for straight sixes.

CSK ended up bowling out Dwayne Bravo and Dwaine Pretorius, their two least expensive bowlers, by the 18th. They’d had to depend on Pretorius, the sixth bowler to be used, to remove the LSG openers after a stand of 99 in 10.2 overs. Moeen Ali had put down a sitter of a catch that would have seen Quinton de Kock gone for 30; he finally fell for 61 off 45.

So CSK chose to go with Shivam Dube for the 19th, with left-arm seamer Mukesh Choudhary bowling the last. But Lewis effectively sealed the game in the penultimate over, which cost CSK 25. With 34 needed off the last two, Dube kept serving it up in the slot at friendly medium pace, and Lewis kept muscling him down the ground. Ayush Badoni, who struck an impressive half-century in LSG’s opener against Gujarat Titans, hastened the end with a few powerful blows of his own.

This was CSK’s second loss in two games, both by six-wicket margins. At least their batting had failed to fire against Kolkata Knight Riders in the tournament opener. That wasn’t the case on Thursday night.

No hitting Bishnoi

When the second-least expensive returns from his bowling side was Avesh’s 38 runs from four overs, Ravi Bishnoi stood out with 2 for 24. It is not just that he bowls in the late 90s. So can Krunal Pandya, in fact he can fire it in quicker, but he conceded 36 from three overs, and was kept away for his last as two left-handers Moeen Ali and Shivam Dube were in the middle. His one-time Baroda teammate Deepak Hooda was used for an over of part-time off-spin in place of Krunal, and went for 12.

The obvious advantage Bishnoi brings is the theoretical possibility that he can turn the ball both ways, although he rarely bowls the leg break. But there have been numerous leggies who bowl flat and quick, do not turn the ball much, and are still hit in this unforgiving format. A key difference that separates Bishnoi is that his natural trajectory as well as line are difficult to line up against. For the left-handers probably more so, as most of his deliveries further skid away from their hitting arc. But even right-handers such as Robin Uthappa and Ambati Rayudu were done in by the speed, angle and zip off the surface.

Bishnoi gave the last delivery of his spell some flight and Ravindra Jadeja promptly bashed him to the straight boundary. To Bishnoi’s credit, until then, he had barely allowed batsmen to lean into their hitting shape; instead it was he who had kept bursting from awkward lengths.

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