KL Rahul-led Lucknow Super Giants gunning for maiden IPL title
After narrowly missing out on a place in the final last year Lucknow Super Giants will look to make amends and go all the way in search of their maiden IPL title.
The most lucrative T20 league in the world, the Indian Premier League is set to return with its 16th edition as defending champions Gujarat Titans host Chennai Super Kings at the Narendra Modi Stadium on March 31.
IPL 2023 is set to revive the home-and-away format which will be a major boost for many franchises since it marks the return of home support. For LSG, it will be the first time they will play in front of their home fans at Ekana Sports City.
Last year, the KL Rahul-led unit reached the playoffs finishing in third place however, they were defeated by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the eliminator thus ending their journey in their first-ever IPL season.
This time around, LSG will hope to go all the way and clinch the coveted IPL trophy and to do that they splashed INR 19.80 crores to add some reinforcements, including a blockbuster INR 16 crore signing of Nicholas Pooran. They also managed to sign renowned names such as Romario Shepherd, Daniel Sams, Jaydev Unadkat and Amit Mishra among others.
With their core squad intact from last year, and some valuable additions, the Super Giants will look to continue their good work from the previous campaign and try to go all the way this season.
A look at last season’s performance
Ahead of IPL 2022, BCCI had announced that two new franchises would be joining the lucrative league and after an intense bidding war, Sanjeev Goenka-owned RPSG group won the bid for the Lucknow franchise for a staggering sum of INR 7,090 crores. Thus, the Lucknow Super Giants joined Gujarat Titans in IPL and both sides did really well in their maiden season.
Rahul’s side did lose their inaugural contest against their fellow newbies in the league but they managed to upset four-time champs CSK in the very next outing. They managed to win nine games from a total of 14 fixtures, finishing level on 18 points with Rajasthan Royals although LSG’s inferior net run rate meant that they dropped to third.
Subsequently, they squared off against RCB in the eliminator where Rajat Patidar smashed a century to propel his side to a total of 207/4. In reply, despite captain Rahul’s 79-run knock, the Lucknow-based franchise could only manage to score 193/6, thus they were eliminated after suffering a 14-run defeat. Rahul’s form was a major factor in LSG’s success as the skipper finished second on the list of highest run-scorers with 616 runs under his belt in 15 games.
New additions ahead of the IPL 2023 season
LSG entered the IPL 2023 auction with the third-highest team purse of INR 23.35 crore with 10 slots to fill. With such a massive purse, they were expected to go big and that they did, setting up a bidding war with CSK to land Ben Stokes, before losing out on the Englishman. However, in order to add more steel to their middle order, they signed Pooran for a massive sum of INR 16 crore.
The Super Giants filled all 10 slots by making some shrewd acquisitions such as Naveen-ul-Haq (INR 50 lakh), Daniel Sams (INR 75 lakh), Romario Shepherd (INR 50 lakh) and Jaydev Unadkat (INR 50 lakh). They also signed domestic players such as Yudhvir Charak (INR 20 lakh), Swapnil Singh (INR 20 lakh), Prerak Mankad (INR 20 lakh), Yash Thakur (INR 45 lakh) and veteran spinner Amit Mishra (INR 50 lakh).
To replace Dushmantha Chameera, Andrew Tye and Jason Holder, LSG managed to land Sams, Shepherd and Unadkat. They’ve put a lot of faith in Pooran and his performances will be key for the franchise this season.
Predicted Starting XI
Quinton de Kock (wk), KL Rahul ©, Deepak Hooda, Nicholas Pooran, Ayush Badoni, Krunal Pandya, Marcus Stoinis, Mark Wood, Mohsin Khan, Avesh Khan, Ravi Bishnoi
Captain KL Rahul’s form was the biggest positive for LSG last term and his form has been a major concern at the international level but he’s always been a reliable performer in IPL. Among all the IPL teams, Lucknow has a very strong contingent of all-rounders. Hooda, Stoinis, Pandya, Mayers, Sams and Shepherd are all very dynamic players and each of them brings something unique to the fore.
Talking about their pace battery, any team would love to have the likes of Avesh, Mohsin and Wood. The latter has breathtaking pace which would trouble opposition batters, while in Avesh and Mohsin, Rahul’s side has two of the most promising Indian pacers who may well go on to become regulars at the international level as well. They’ve got plenty of bowling options too with the number of all-rounders and the spinners that they have.
Add to that the fact that LSG has three quality wicketkeeping options in De Kock, the skipper himself and Pooran, it will be interesting to see who dons the gloves this term.
The biggest concern for LSG would be the punt that they took on Pooran who has been fairly inconsistent in IPL down the years. He’s the second-highest-paid player in the squad, and if he does fire, he could prove to be a big game-changer but the Caribbean has yet to deliver consistently in the IPL. Add to that the fact that Rahul’s international form has dipped of late, it will be a slight area of concern for the franchise.
Furthermore, while they have quality overseas picks like Mayers, and Shepherd among others, the bench strength as far as Indian options are concerned has been considerably weakened. LSG could have picked Manish Pandey for a reduced wage, but Pandya, Vohra, Gowtham and Badoni are not the most consistent run-scorers.
The Super Giants look like a formidable unit with big hitters in their top order, quality all-round options and a promising pace battery. However, a lot will depend on the form of Rahul, and Pooran who could be the difference between make or break for LSG this season.