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Can Lucknow extend home dominance against misfiring Punjab?

Last updated on 14 Apr 2023 | 02:42 PM
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Can Lucknow extend home dominance against misfiring Punjab?

Lucknow have won both their matches at the Ekana Stadium, and both have been crushing wins

It has been a week of last over thrillers, and the 21st match between Lucknow Super Giants and Punjab Kings could be another one. However, it might not be a high scoring one — expect a low-scoring cliffhanger. 

In any case, this game is between two teams with different fortunes in their last two matches. The home team, Lucknow, march into this game on the back of two confidence-boosting wins. In addition, they have been unbeaten in their two games at home. 

On the other hand, after a fine start to their IPL 2023 campaign, winning back-to-back matches, Punjab have suffered defeats in their last two games. The match against Gujarat Titans went down to the wire, but they looked pale in their game against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Can they bounce back? That's the big question. 

Things to watch out for

Pooran - A six-hitting machine

One thing that has gone Lucknow's way in this IPL is Nicholas Pooran's adaption to the finisher role. In the 2022 edition of the IPL, this was a significant concern for Lucknow. Their number five to seven batters scored at a run rate of 8.0 and lost a wicket every 14.8 balls, the worst among all teams.

In this IPL, they have a run rate of 10.4 and have smashed 23 sixes, eight more than Kolkata. Out of those 23, 14 belong to Pooran. He has hit a six every 4.6 balls in this IPL. Among batters who have faced 30+ balls in this edition, no batter has hit a six as frequently as Pooran. 59.6% of his runs in this IPL have come through sixes (84 off 141). 

Overall, Pooran has scored at a strike rate of 220.3. From the above criteria, only Shardul Thakur has a better strike rate (230.3). In sixes count, it is a tie with Ruturaj Gaikwad (14).

Dismal performances of Indian batters

Lucknow sit second in the points table with six points in four matches. Regardless of their position, Lucknow have a problem that they need to fix as soon as possible. 

The surfaces are new, and the overseas batters have been doing exceptionally well. So well, that their numbers are poles apart from Indians. 

In this IPL, among the top seven batters of Lucknow, overseas players have scored 388 runs. They have scored those runs at a strike rate of 183 and have hit a boundary every 3.6 balls. Lucknow's top three run scorers are Pooran, Marcus Stoinis, and Kyle Mayers. All three have scored 100+ runs. 

In comparison, the Indians have scored 245 runs at a strike rate of 111.9 and hit a boundary every 9.1 balls. No Indian batter has hit a 50+ score for Lucknow. Contrarily, there have been four by overseas batters.  

Punjab derailing in middle overs

In Punjab's two wins, the one thing that stood out was their batting in the nine overs phase between 7-15. However, that has not been the case in the last two matches. 

In the first two matches, Punjab scored 176 runs at a run rate of 9.8 while losing only four wickets. They smashed a boundary every 5.1 balls in this phase. In comparison, they scored only 94 runs and lost eight wickets. Their average, which was 44 in the first two matches, has dropped significantly to 11.8. The run rate has come down to 5.2 from 9.8. 

Ground details

The two matches played at Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium have seen contrasting fortunes. In the first match, batters had a say, as Lucknow posted 193 in the first innings. However, the second match showed the true colours. Sunrisers Hyderabad posted 121 in the first innings.

So far this IPL, batting teams have scored at 7.7 in the two matches, the lowest among all venues. Historically, this has been a slow-scoring venue. In all T20s since 2022, teams have scored 133 runs on average in the first innings. Overall, the batting teams have scored at 6.8 RPO.

Returning to this IPL, the pacers bagged 73.3 percent of wickets in the first match. However, spinners had the wood over the pacers in the second game (66.7%). Overall, the quicks have bagged 55.6 percent of wickets in the two games compared to 44.4% by spin. Regarding economy, the spinners (6.9) have been much better than the pacers (8.2). 

Tactical Nous

> Marcus Stoinis, in the IPL from 2019 to 2021, had a strike rate of 121.9 against the spinners. However, since 2022, the strike rate has shot up to 158.7. In this IPL, he has scored 66 runs in 38 balls at a strike rate of 173.7, the best among batters with 25+ balls. 

The majority of the bashing has been against leg-spinners. In eight balls, Stoinis has a strike rate of 262.5 against them. However, in 20 balls against left-arm orthodox, he has a strike rate of 125. Whereas, against the rest of the spin bowling types, he strikes at 227.8. 

> In this IPL, Arshdeep Singh has picked up five wickets in the powerplay. However, he has leaked runs at an economy of 9.8. The reason behind that has been inconsistency in lengths. 

In IPL 2022, though he did not have wickets to his name, he consistently bowled good length deliveries (53.7%), conceding 5.8 runs per over. However, this season, he has sprayed all over. He has bowled 33.3% on a good length (7.1) and 18.8% short (8.0).

Team combination

Kyle Mayers' form has faltered in the last two matches. This could see him make way for Quinton de Kock. If the pitch stays the way it was in the second match of IPL 2023, Mark Wood might be rested, and Romario Shephard could take his place.

Probable XI: Kyle Mayers/Quinton de Kock, KL Rahul (c), Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Marcus Stoinis, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Ayush Badoni, Jaydev Unadkat, Mark Wood/Romario Shepherd, Ravi Bishnoi, Avesh Khan

If Liam Livingstone is completely fit for Punjab, he could replace Bhanuka Rajapaksa. 

Probable XI: Prabsimran Singh, Shikhar Dhawan (c), Matthew Short, Liam Livingstone/Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Sam Curran, M Shahrukh Khan, Harpreet Brar, Rahul Chahar, Kagiso Rabada/Nathan Ellis, Arshdeep Singh

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