Injury cloud surrounds Lucknow as they brace for stern Chennai test

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02 May 2023 | 10:44 AM
authorShweta Haranhalli

Injury cloud surrounds Lucknow as they brace for stern Chennai test

Lucknow Super Giants will most likely be without KL Rahul and Jaydev Unadkat due to injuries as they aim to bounce back after three successive defeats at home

Over the years, we have heard cricketing pundits say this very cliched one-liner that best describes the game:

"Cricket is a great leveller"

Well, ask Lucknow Super Giants, as they have witnessed the highest of highs and lowest of lows in the last seven days. 

After shattering numerous Indian Premier League records en route to the second-highest score of 257 runs in the competition's history against Punjab Kings, they failed to chase down 127 runs in their next fixture against Royal Challengers Bangalore. 

Battered and bruised after a dismal batting performance, the Super Giants have only 36 hours to turn things around before they face a formidable force in Chennai Super Kings. 

MS Dhoni-led side stumbled in the last two outings by bare minimum margins and will be itching to make amends on a pitch that will suit their quality spinners more than the home team. 

With plenty of firepower in the two sides and world-class tweakers in the line-up, it promises to be a cracker of a contest and here are some of the critical things to watch out for. 

Things to watch out for

Can Lucknow deal with Rahul's absence?

One of the significant reasons for Lucknow's inability to chase down a modest score of 127 runs was the absence of KL Rahul at the top of the order. The skipper of the side strained his hip flexor in the second over of the innings and was helped off the field by his teammates. 

Although the 31-year-old walked into bat at number 11 to salvage some pride and improve the team's Net Run Rate, he looked in absolute discomfort. 

With the right-handed batter most likely not to feature in the playing XI for this high-voltage clash, Lucknow can still continue with their opening combination of Ayush Badoni and Kyle Mayers

Another left-field option that the home team can opt for, especially considering the dismal performance of their domestic batters, is slotting Quinton de Kock into the opening position. 

The South African batter has been left out of the playing XI due to the improved showing of Mayers and could be an ideal candidate to replace Rahul at the top of the order. 

However, this will lead to Naveen-ul-Haq missing out despite some impressive performances in the middle overs and at the death. 

It will be interesting to see the tactics the Super Giants deploy as they aim to get over the rut of three successive defeats at the Ekana Stadium. 

Jadeja's struggle with the bat

Ravindra Jadeja, has been one of the stand-out spinners in this edition of the league, with 13 wickets in the middle overs, the most by a bowler in that phase. 

However, the same cannot be said about his performances with the bat, as the southpaw has struggled to get going and scored 92 runs in seven innings at an average of 18.4. 

While the 34-year-old is assigned the role of playing some cameos down the order and giving the team some much-needed impetus, he has failed to clear the boundary cushions in the back end of the innings. 

In this edition, Jadeja has scored 89 runs off 61 deliveries between overs 16 to 20 at a strike rate of 145.9, which is the lowest among batters who have faced a minimum of 50 deliveries in that phase. 

With MS Dhoni waiting in the wings on most occasions, Chennai will need a lot more from their premier all-rounder in their bid to clinch the fifth title. 

Pitch & conditions

In the five matches played at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow, the average first-innings score batting first is around the 140-run mark, and the average winning total is 153 runs. 

The wicket is on the slower side and will assist the spinners through the course of 40 overs, making it challenging for the batters to play their exuberant strokes. 

With relatively bigger boundaries on offer, the spinners will hold the key in the middle overs as they look to stem the flow of runs. The sluggish nature of the wicket will also encourage the fast bowlers to use their slower deliveries and variations to maximum effect.  

Tactical nous

> While the onus will be on Jadeja to display his array of strokes, the left-hander will be up against leg spinner Amit Mishra on a slow Ekana track. 

The Chennai all-rounder has an average of 7.8 against the veteran spinner and has been dismissed on four occasions in seven innings, the most by a bowler in IPL. Hence, it will not be surprising if Lucknow bring in Mishra as soon as Jadeja walks into the bat. 

> Lucknow have heavily relied on their openers, KL Rahul and Mayers, to do the bulk of the scoring for them at the top of the order. With Rahul not fit to play, Chennai will look to get the better of the West Indian early in the innings. 

The 30-year-old has been susceptible against left-arm spinners this season and has been dismissed twice in 15 deliveries. With his issues against the bowling type, Chennai can opt to use Jadeja early in the powerplay. 

Team combination

With KL Rahul most likely to miss out on this game, Ayush Badoni will open the batting with Kyle Mayers and Prerak Mankad is expected to come into the playing XI and strengthen the middle order. 

Lucknow Super Giants: Ayush Badoni, Kyle Mayers, Deepak Hooda, Marcus Stoinis, Krunal Pandya (Captain), Nicholas Pooran (wk), Prerak Mankad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Ravi Bishnoi, K Gowtham, Yash Thakur

Over the years, Chennai Super Kings are known to back the same set of players to get the job done. They are likely to field an unchanged XI, with Ambati Rayudu and Akash Singh being subbed out depending on the toss. 

Chennai Super Kings: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Ajinkya Rahane, Moeen Ali, Shivam Dube, Ambati Rayudu / Akash Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni (Captain and wk), Matheesha Pathirana, Tushar Deshpande, Maheesh Theekshana

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Lucknow Super Giants vs Chennai Super KingsIndian Premier League, 2023Lucknow Super GiantsChennai Super KingsKL RahulMS DhoniKyle MayersRavindra JadejaAmit MishraAyush Badoni

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