Lucknow Super Giants will take on Delhi Capitals in the third game of the Indian Premier League 2023 at the Ekana Cricket Stadium on Saturday (April 1). Still reeling from the absence of their talismanic leader, Rishabh Pant, David Warner will want to keep KL Rahul’s boys at bay - a franchise that has one of the most complete squads on paper.
Pitch and conditions
The Ekana Cricket Stadium has hosted 16 T20s since 2022 and the batters here have struggled to get going. They have operated at an average of 21 and a scoring rate of just 6.7, while a wicket has fallen every 18.9 deliveries.
There have been two T20Is played here in the aforementioned time frame, with spinners doing most of the damage. The fast bowlers here have an average of 34 and an economy rate of 8.1, while the corresponding numbers for spinners are 28.5 and 5.4 respectively.
India recently played a T20I against New Zealand in January and only 200 runs were scored across 39.5 overs. The Black Caps could only manage 99/8 in their 20 overs and it took India 119 deliveries to get past that total. In fact, 30 of those total overs were bowled by spinners.
While you could go for the above team, you can also choose your team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. You can use this tool to build your team with the help of algorithms. Then, based on your preferences, the platform will guide you through creating the ideal fantasy XI.
For small leagues: KL Rahul (capt), Deepak Hooda (vice-capt)
For grand leagues: Axar Patel (capt), Marcus Stoinis (vice-capt)
Stats that matter
KL Rahul has averaged above 50 in every season since 2018 and amassed over 600 runs in each edition except 2019, in which he missed out by just seven runs. His strike rate has been a concern but here we only care about runs.
In Nicholas Pooran and Deepak Hooda, Lucknow have a couple of solid batters of spin bowling. The combination of Hooda (average 48.5 and strike rate 139.57 vs spin in IPL 2022) and Pooran could do wonders for the franchise, especially with one being a right-hander and the other being a left-hander. Meanwhile, Pooran averages 31.06 and strikes at 149.47 in the middle overs.
In T20s since 2022, Mitchell Marsh has a strike rate of 146 against pace but operates at just 118.42 against spin. The same goes for Rovman Powell (166.8 v 120.98) as well.
Grand League punts
Since IPL 2021, Prithvi Shaw has scored 570 runs in the powerplay at an average of 43.85 and a strike rate of 162.9. His average alone is elite — only four others on the list have averaged over 40, and only Buttler and Rahul have bettered his 43.85.
Axar Patel has made excellent strides as a batter, averaging 30.2 in T20s since 2022 at a strike-rate of 158.7. The left-arm spinner will also be impactful with the ball on that Lucknow surface.
LSG could easily swap Quinton de Kock (national duty) with Kyle Mayers, but playing Manan Vohra will help them more, especially if they bat first. Once Vohra has done his job as a batter, Lucknow could use Naveen as an impact player and have him alongside Wood.
Lucknow - KL Rahul (c & wk), Manan Vohra/Kyle Mayers, Deepak Hooda, Nicholas Pooran, Ayush Badoni, Marcus Stoinis, Krunal Pandya, Mark Wood, Jaydev Unadkat/Yash Thakur, Ravi Bishnoi, Avesh Khan.
Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi are yet to join the Delhi set-up, meaning Mustafizur Rahman becomes a certain starter. The left-arm seamer could prove to be handy on that slow Lucknow surface. Delhi also have in-form Rilee Rossouw in their set-up but will have to leave out one of Marsh or Powell to fit him in.
Delhi - David Warner (c), Prithvi Shaw, Mitchell Marsh, Yash Dhull/Manish Pandey, Sarfaraz Khan (wk), Rovman Powell, Axar Patel, Lalit Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Mustafizur Rahman, Khaleel Ahmed.