Lucknow Super Giants and Sunrisers Hyderabad have had dissimilar starts to their campaign. Mark Wood led LSG to a comprehensive win against Delhi, but a spin choke denied them a victory at Chepauk. In Hyderabad, an Aiden Markram-less Sunrisers Hyderabad suffered a drubbing at the hands of Rajasthan Royals. With both teams having their South African contingent available for the game, they will have a few selection headaches to contend with.
Things to watch out for
Who does de Kock replace?
LSG were the second-slowest team in the powerplay in their maiden season, but Kyle Mayers has solved that in IPL 2023 by providing some much-needed impetus up top. His performance in the first two games has made him virtually undroppable. Also a certain pick is Quinton de Kock, who was LSG's second-highest run-scorer last season, and is entering the ongoing season with a T20I ton last week. LSG, hence, have to choose between Marcus Stoinis and Nicholas Pooran. The latter fills a glaring hole in their middle-order, hitting spin. And he's done with decent success so far. This makes Marcus Stoinis the most likely player to get the axe.
As far as Mayers goes, the Super Giants' think tank need to look no further back than last season to see the perils of dropping an in-form player. In IPL 2022, Bhanuka Rajapaksa started for PBKS and lit up the tournament on fire with his attacking brand of cricket. Once Jonny Bairstow came in, Rajapaksa had to be dropped to accommodate him. Things went downhill for Punjab since then. Rajapaksa was brought back in towards the end of the league stage, but he could not replicate his initial success.
The lack of new ball options for LSG has meant that Mayers has also doubled up as their new ball bowler. Him going out could lead to one of Avesh Khan or Mark Wood being forced to come up top along with the inexperienced Yash Thakur. This could have a cascading effect on their middle-overs bowling with Marcus Stoinis being the only other pace option.
Klassen or Phillips?
Glenn Phillips has not hit the ground running after last year’s T20 World Cup. In the four T20s he’s played since then, he averages a lowly 8 runs/wicket and has struck at 71. Even against RR, he got out cheaply trying to up the ante. Fighting for the same spot is the in-form Heinrich Klaasen. This year, he averages close to 50 and has struck at a rate in excess of 160, and was an absolute beast in the inaugural SA20. What also tips the scales in his favor is his superior ability to play spin. Given the conditions, Klaasen would be a better option to go after the slower bowlers. Dropping a player of Phillips' ability after a solitary game would undoubtedly be harsh, but that might just be the need of the hour for SRH.
Pitch & 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.
In their two games, LSG have seen extreme results in their numbers against pace and spin. They scored at 8.2 RPO and lost a wicket every 20 balls to spinners, while the same numbers against pace stand at 11.3 and 44. Of course, these numbers have to be taken with a pinch of salt since one of their two games came in spin-friendly conditions at Chepauk. Curiously, LSG have sent Krunal Pandya above Nicholas Pooran in both their games. This despite the latter being renowned for his spin-hitting abilities. The argument can be made that Pooran was probably their designated finisher, so they were saving him to close out the game. But considering Krunal’s numbers against spin since IPL 2020 cut a sorry figure — he averages 13.4 and strikes at a below-par 93 in the last four seasons — batting Pooran at No.4 might just be the way to go.
SRH seem a bit low on their spin reserves, and the last match in Lucknow did see a few balls turn square, so Hyderabad might be tempted to strengthen their spin attack. If so, they could look to bring in either of the Mayanks, Markande or Dagar, to exploit the conditions. There's also incentive for SRH to play an extra spinner considering spin proved to be LSG's kryptonite in their first two games.
Lucknow Super Giants (Probable XI): KL Rahul ( C), Kyle Mayers/Quinton de Kock, Deepak Hooda, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Krunal Pandya, Marcus Stoinis, Ayush Badoni/K Gowtham, Yash Thakur, Mark Wood, Ravi Bishnoi, Avesh Khan
Likely Impact Sub: Based on the match situation, they can start with Ayush Badoni or Krishnappa Gowtham, and then sub either individual out for the other.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (Probable XI): Abhishek Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram ( C), Harry Brook, Heinrich Klaasen (WK), Washington Sundar, Adil Rashid, Umran Mailk, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan
Likely Impact Sub: Based on the match situation, a spinner can be subbed in for a pacer or Abdul Samad can be subbed in for a bowler / already-dismissed batter.