Mumbai: IPL 2022 sees newbies Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) and Gujarat Titans (GT) throw their hat into the ring.
Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans, led by K.L. Rahul and Hardik Pandya, respectively, will aim to start with a bang when they take on each other tomorrow.
Here is a look at how the two teams shape up ahead of their first IPL match.
Lucknow Super Giants:
Deriving the formula from Chennai, Mumbai and of late, Delhi, Lucknow have created a strong pool of Indian players. They have a captain as well as a swashbuckling opener in Rahul who makes for a rock-solid pairing with Quinton de Kock at the top of the order, with a possible number three in Manish Pandey, and a lower-order hitter in Deepak Hooda.
Other notable Indian players include all-rounders Krunal Pandya and Krishnappa Gowtham, left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, seamer Avesh Khan and spirited leggie Ravi Bishnoi.
They also have quality overseas players in Andrew Tye, Marcus Stoinis, Jason Holder and Evin Lewis, while Kyle Mayers and Dushmantha Chameera can be the surprise package.
For all the big names with the bat on paper, Rahul’s approach will be the key upfront. With leadership responsibility at Punjab Kings, Rahul remained subdued in his stroke-play, often struggling against the spinners.
The same goes for de Kock, who has a problem against the spinners. Pandey hasn’t had a prolific season while Pandya has seen his stocks go down in both bowling and batting. Moreover, Lucknow haven’t got many overseas options, and for the first-choice players, there aren’t any solid back-up options as well.
Chance for Rahul to stamp his authority as a leader in a fresh team. Also, IPL 15 serves as a chance for Bishnoi to enhance his billing as the next spin option for India.
Stoinis is unavailable for the initial matches due to Australia’s limited over commitment in Pakistan, while Holder and Mayers will miss the first two games due to the ongoing the third Test against England. Add to this, de Kock will miss the first match due to mandatory quarantine. Lucknow look good on paper, but if the approach goes haywire, it can hit their chances of making a good impression in their debut season.
One of the biggest plus points for Gujarat has been assembling a high-quality bowling attack. They have express pace in Lockie Ferguson and Alzarri Joseph, while Mohammed Shami could be probing with his line and length.
In the spin department, they have a world-class leggie in Rashid Khan, a handy off-spinner in Jayant Yadav and a promising left-arm spinner in the domestic circuit, R. Sai Kishore.
They also have fast bowling all-rounders in captain Hardik Pandya, Vijay Shankar and Dominic Drakes, besides the leg-spin of Rahul Tewatia to bank upon. Decent back-ups include Varun Aaron, Noor Ahmed and uncapped players Yash Dayal, Pradeep Sangwan and Darshan Nalkande.
England opener Jason Roy pulling out of the tournament means that Gujarat’s batting looks a little thin. It means that Australia wicketkeeper-batter Matthew Wade will open alongside Shubman Gill with his replacement Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the mix.
For number three, there seems to be a three-way battle between Wriddhiman Saha, Vijay Shankar and uncapped Karnataka batter Abhinav Manohar, who are unproved entities in that position in IPL. Though Gujarat have other middle-order batsmen in Pandya and David Miller, the responsibility lies with the batters before them not to leave too much work for the finishers.
Gujarat Titans are beginning their IPL journey on a fresh slate. Their captain and coaching staff too are donning new roles, which gives them the chance to excel without any burden of expectations.
Pandya is making a comeback to competitive cricket after the Men’s T20 World Cup in October last year. Since then, he has been working on his fitness. A major chunk of Gujarat’s balance depends on how many matches Pandya plays in IPL 2022. Gujarat also need to take care of the fitness of players like Gill, Shankar and Ferguson, who have served long injury lay-offs in the recent past. Injury to any of their main players can prove disastrous.