The bitterness of the IPL 2022 Eliminator defeat may have lingered for a while, but given Lucknow Super Giants’ new signings, it looks like the team has moved on.
Super Giants’ maiden campaign could have ended better than the fourth-place finish they managed after a 14-run loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore in the playoffs.
K.L. Rahul’s slow-paced half-century during a steep 208-run chase proved a big blow. While the captain pointed at sloppy fielding as the reason for the reverse, mentor Gautam Gambhir’s ice-cold stare directed at him told a different story.
It is baffling why Rahul, a batter blessed with a wide repertoire, adopts a cautious approach while opening in T20s. During Super Giants’ jersey launch earlier this month, the Karnataka batter explained his view on strike rates.
“Strike-rate is over-rated. It depends upon demand. If you chase 140, you don’t need to go with a 200 strike-rate, it depends upon the prevailing situation,” Rahul said.
It will be interesting to see how the skipper goes about his business this season.
The team management, too, has made things easier for him. In the lead-up to the auction, the Lucknow outfit released a chunk of overseas seamers besides top batters Evin Lewis and Manish Pandey.
The team splurged ₹16 crore on adding a powerhouse in the middle-order — Nicholas Pooran — and roped in overseas all-rounders Romario Shepherd and Daniel Sams for flexibility and depth.
While the Super Giants played only in Mumbai last season, they will have their task cut out in the home-away format after shifting base home — Ekana Stadium in Lucknow — this year. The average total at Ekana, which is yet to host an IPL game, is a modest 140.2.
Lucknow’s batting firepower — Rahul, Quinton de Kock, Deepak Hooda, Pooran and Marcus Stoinis — will look to dominate even in these bowler-friendly conditions.
Super Giants also has a dream pace trio — England quick Mark Wood, Avesh Khan and left-armer Mohsin Khan — to utilise the helpful Lucknow pitch. Mohsin had an impressive 2022 season, picking up 14 wickets from nine games.
The in-form Jaydev Unadkat can lend experience and expertise while veteran Amit Mishra adds to the spin foundation of Ravi Bishnoi, Krunal Pandya and K. Gowtham.
Lucknow has preferred an all-rounder-heavy approach instead of populating its line-up with Indian batting back-ups. Ayush Badoni and Manan Vohra offer exciting options with the bat. Saurashtra all-rounder Prerak Mankad can also pack a punch.
The Super Giants dugout is filled with proven and talented players. How captain Rahul steers the innings as well as the ship will determine its fate.