IPL: Can Lucknow Super Giants take the big leap after back-to-back play-offs?

Team management will cast a wary eye on the fitness of skipper KL Rahul

Led by KL Rahul (pictured), Lucknow Super Giants feature star players like Nicholas Pooran and Kyle Mayers (photo: IPL)
Led by KL Rahul (pictured), Lucknow Super Giants feature star players like Nicholas Pooran and Kyle Mayers (photo: IPL)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

After two impressive seasons on debut when they reached back-to-back play-offs, Lucknow Super Giants will want to go a step further in the upcoming season. However, the problem with KL Rahul’s team could be their bowling line-up which looks decidedly weaker compared to their batting prowess.

For a team which boasts of Rahul and Quinton de Kock at the top of the order, followed by the likes of Nicholas Pooran – the new vice-captain, Devdutt Padikkal, Kyle Mayers and a set of accomplished allrounders – the bowling attack lacks a leader. The pullout of England speedster Mark Wood at the last minute to manage his workload has created a crisis of sorts, though it will give the LSG fans an opportunity to see the exciting West Indies quick Shamar Joseph in action.

Joseph, whose seven-wicket haul for 68 paved the way for a Caribbean heist at the Gabba in early February and he was roped in soon enough by Peshawar Zalmi, a team in Pakistan Super League (PSL) and then LSG for a fee of Rs 3 crores. He will have the likes of England allrounder David Willey for company along with the likes of new acquisition Shivam Mavi or the left-arm Mohsin Khan.

The spin attack is relatively better marshalled by Ravi Bishnoi, the smart leggie who shot to world No.1 ICC ranking among T20I bowlers last year, with canny customers like Krunal Pandya and Deepak Hooda capable of choking the opposition with their fastish stuff. The franchise has also spent a tidy sum on Manimaran Siddharth, a left-arm spinner hailing from Tamil Nadu, to accompany Bishnoi.

The batting certainly oozes class though for new mentor Justin Langer, Rahul’s fitness may be a constant source of worry over the next three months. The captain, who resumed international cricket after a long lay-off last year in Asia Cup and then 50-overs World Cup, was at his fluent best and carried on in the same vein in the England Test series till he complained of a quadriceps problem and pulled out. With the T20 World Cup round the corner, the team management will be casting a wary eye on the injury-prone star.

Their solid batting line-up on paper could make it relatively easy for LSG to set decent targets or chase high scores while their assembly of allrounders could be the subject of envy. The likes of Mayers, Willey, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya and Marcus Stoinis give the Lucknow-based outfit a variety of allround options who are capable of making their presence felt with both bat and ball in hand.

LSG’s Indian talents have shown great promise on the domestic circuit and the franchise will hope that the likes of Mavi and Siddharth, both of whom were bought at the mini-auction, can carry their form into IPL 2024.

The pint-sized Ayush Badoni and Ravi Bishnoi will be hoping to kick on after having good outings in IPL 2023. Mohsin, who took 14 wickets in nine games in IPL 2022 before injuries disrupted him in 2023, is another Indian player that will have a point to prove. Afghanistan's Naveen-ul-Haq, the fiery Afghan, is also a performer to keep an eye on as he looks to have an impact with the ball after a decent debut season which saw him take 11 wickets in eight matches last year.

Owners: RPSG Group

Captrain: K.L.Rahul

Coach: Justin Langer

Best finish: Play-offs in 2022, 2023

KL Rahul (c), Quinton de Kock, Nicholas Pooran, Ayush Badoni, Kyle Mayers, Marcus Stoinis, Deepak Hooda, Devdutt Padikkal, Ravi Bishnoi, Naveen-ul-Haq, Krunal Pandya, Yudhvir Singh, Prerak Mankad, Yash Thakur, Amit Mishra, Samar Joseph, Mayank Yadav, Mohsin Khan, K. Gowtham, Shivam Mavi, Arshin Kulkarni, M. Siddharth, Ashton Turner, David Willey, Mohd. Arshad Khan.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines