Lucknow brace for Mumbai showdown as battle for top four intensifies

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15 May 2023 | 10:28 AM
authorShweta Haranhalli

Lucknow brace for Mumbai showdown as battle for top four intensifies

A win for either of the side will help them inch closer to securing their spot in the IPL 2023 playoffs

The battle for the top four spots in this edition of the Indian Premier League is heating up, with as many as nine teams in contention to make it to the playoffs barring the Delhi Capitals. 

62 games filled with ebbs and flows, we are all set to witness the most-awaited clashes of the tournament as Lucknow Super Giants take on Mumbai Indians at the Ekana Stadium. 

If you had asked me prior to the commencement of the league if this is the game I would be eagerly looking forward to, the answer would be a blatant NO.

However, such has been competition all throughout the tournament that this mundane clash at a low-scoring Ekana Stadium will have fans glued to their television sets. 

While Mumbai will enter the venue on the back of another total in excess of 200 courtesy off a masterclass from Suryakumar Yadav, the home team were bailed out of a slightly challenging situation by Nicholas Pooran in the last clash against the Orange Army. 

The two sides are placed three and four in the points table, and a win for either of them will help them inch ever so close to confirming their spot in the playoffs. 

There is plenty to play for in this massive clash, and here are some of the key battles that could decide the outcome of this game. 

Things to watch out for

Eyes on Rohit Sharma, yet again!

The five-time champions are in the midst of a dream run and have won four out of their last five encounters in the second half of the competition to consolidate their number three spot in the ladder. 

While the likes of Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav and Nehal Wadhera have been consistent with their performances with the bat, the same cannot be said about Rohit Sharma

There ain't any doubt that the skipper of Mumbai Indians is enduring a tough season and has managed only 220 runs in 11 innings at an average of 20, which is the third-worst among openers with a minimum of five innings in the competition. 

A detailed observation of the graph gives us an indication that most of the players in the bottom five list have been dropped from the playing XI barring Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who is also a wicket-keeper for the Knight Riders.  

With increasing calls on the future of Rohit in the shortest format, this lukewarm season with the bat indicates a sorry state of affairs for the captain. 

The Mumbai Indians would hope for their leader to storm his way back into form in the last couple of matches and lead the team to yet another championship. 

Have Lucknow finally found their number three?

One of the significant reasons for Lucknow's over-dependency on their top order has been the indifferent form of Deepak Hooda. The right-handed batter was touted to be one of the key Indian batters heading into the tournament but failed to translate it into performances. 

The 28-year-old managed to score only 64 runs in 10 innings at an average of 7.11, which is the lowest among batters with a minimum of 10 innings this season. 

A string of low scores meant the Hooda was dropped from the playing XI, with Prerak Mankad being assigned the role of batting at number three. 

The right-handed batter has been one of the mainstays in the batting unit for Saurashtra and has been the reason for their consistent rise in domestic cricket. 

In the last league game against Sunrisers, Mankad grabbed his opportunity to bat at number three with both hands as he smashed an unbeaten 64 off 45 deliveries to guide the team over the line in a tricky 183-run chase. 

The tournament is heading into the business end, and the performance of the 29-year-old is set to give the team management some much-needed relief as the number three conundrum was indeed their Achilles heel heading into the final frontier. 

Pitch & conditions

The Ekana Stadium in Lukcnow is one venue where the batters have feared the most, as run-scoring has been extremely difficult given the sluggish nature of the wicket. The average first-innings score at the venue is around the 143-run mark, and the average winning total is around 157 runs. 

While most of the venues in the tournament have been a high-scoring affair, with a total of 200 runs being breached on numerous occasions, the bowlers will heave a sigh of relief coming to Lucknow. 

There ain't any significant difference in the number of wickets being taken by pacers or spinners, as the two bowling types have 39 and 39 dismissals, respectively. 

However, with the surface getting considerably slower as the game progresses, the variations by the fast bowlers will yield more results, and the spinners will also benefit from the longer boundaries. 

Tactical nous

> Suryakumar Yadav will be one of the critical players for Mumbai Indians heading into this high-voltage clash. The right-handed batter will set foot at the venue on the back of a blazing hundred against defending champions Gujarat Titans at home in the last game. 

However, the 32-year-old will be wary of left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya in the opposition ranks. Suryakumar has been dismissed twice against orthodox spinners in 14 deliveries this season and has an average of 6.5 against them, the worst for him against a bowling type. 

> The leading run scorer for the Super Giants, the onus of the side will rely heavily on Kyle Mayers at the top of the order. The Windies batter has scored 361 runs in 12 innings at an average of 30.08 and a strike rate of 144.4. 

While he has been at his destructive best in the powerplay, Rohit Sharma can potentially challenge him with the left-arm spin of Kumar Kartikeya. The southpaw has been dismissed twice in 15 deliveries and averages 13 against the bowling type. 

Team combination:

After a seven-wicket win against Sunrisers Hyderabad away from home, Lucknow are expected not to tinker with their playing XI unless there are last-minute injuries. 

Lucknow Super Giants: Quinton de Kock (wk), Kyle Mayers, Krunal Pandya (Captain), Prerak Mankad, Marcus Stoinis, Nicholas Pooran, Amit Mishra, Yash Thakur, Ravi Bishnoi, Yudhvir Singh Charak, Avesh Khan.

Mumbai Indians will look to back the same set of players to get the job done on a sluggish wicket in Lucknow. Akash Madhwal and Vishnu Vinod are expected to be in the playing XI before being subbed out, depending on the toss. 

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Ishan Kishan (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Nehal Wadhera, Tim David, Cameron Green, Chris Jordan, Vishnu Vinod/Akash Madhwal, Piyush Chawla, Jason Behrendorff, Kumar Kartikeya.

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Lucknow Super Giants vs Mumbai IndiansIndian Premier League, 2023Mumbai IndiansLucknow Super GiantsRohit SharmaDeepak HoodaPrerak MankadKrunal PandyaSuryakumar YadavKyle MayersNicholas PooranIshan Kishan

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