Their inconsistency and captain KL Rahul’s unimpressive strike rate are the two major concerns for Lucknow Super Giants going into their clash against Punjab Kings at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Friday.
Much of the inconsistency in their last three games, out of which they lost two, could be blamed on Rahul’s inability to keep up with the required run-scoring rate. It’s baffling how the skipper suddenly slows down even after getting well set with a flurry of boundaries and sixes.
Precisely, that sudden slowdown of Rahul hit the Super Giants hard in their game against Gujarat Titans last week, which they lost by seven runs in spite of being in a comfortable position. Rahul’s struggle in the middle overs is also making matters harder for Super Giants’ power-hitters Marcus Stoinis and Nicholas Pooran.
A much more capable batter than what the current numbers suggest, Rahul himself too must be aware of his need to keep going, particularly as his opening partner Kyle Mayers has been quite regular in playing the strokes during the Powerplay overs.
Importantly, despite losing two of their last three games, the Super Giants are still among the top four on the points table. If Rahul manages to be in better control with the bat, they will certainly be in a better position.
Bowling-wise, the Super Giants don’t have much to worry about as their quicks and spinners have been putting up a decent job. Leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, though, was hit for 49 off his four overs by the Titans as he couldn’t get the required length to keep their captain Hardik Pandya at bay in the death overs.
Punjab Kings, too, have reasons to feel confident about their bowling given how consistently left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh has been performing.
On a belter of a track at the Wankhede, led by Arshdeep’s brilliance, Punjab Kings bowlers did well to hit the right areas in the slog overs that helped them defend 214/8 and beat Mumbai Indians by 13 runs.
Will regular captain Shikhar Dhawan be back on Friday from his shoulder niggle? Punjab Kings remain confident.
In Dhawan’s absence, his team has lacked the firepower at the top with only Prabhsimran Singh able to take the attack to the opposition. Stand-in captain Sam Curran, though, has tried his best with both bat and ball.
■ Punjab Kings vs Lucknow Super Giants, 7.30pm, Mohali, live on Star Sports & Jio Cinema