Dubai: Lucknow Super Giants have made it to two playoffs in two successive years, a notable effort indeed. The Indian Premier League newcomers have become part of the world’s richest franchise league only last season and despite competing against some of the giants of the league, they managed to hold their own and advance to the next stage.
But the manner in which they surrendered meekly to the five-time champions Mumbai Indians in the Eliminator on Wednesday raises several questions. The primary among them is Lucknow Super Giants going the Royal Challengers Bangalore way?
Bangalore made it to the final in the second edition of the IPL in 2009 and lost to Deccan Chargers. Since then Royal Challengers have entered playoffs many times, including a few finals, but still the maiden title is eluding them. Bangalore fans have been waiting patiently for 16 long years, but only end up on a disappointing note hoping things would change next year.
One of the reasons for Royal Challengers’ failure is they depend heavily on a few individuals to help them cross the line each time. This trend is happening for almost all the years and it might help them during the league phase, but in the knockout the pressure is so much on these individuals that it’s not enough to win matches.
“With just two or three players performing, you cannot win the IPL title. It has been the case with Royal Challengers Bangalore. They depend on Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell in batting and Mohammed Shami for bowling. You need a team that has everyone performing,” former Sri Lankan pacer Chaminda Vaas told Gulf News recently.
Similarly, Lucknow have made two playoffs but not able to go further, even to the final. They are depending on a couple of individuals to steer them to victory. Most of the case it was Nicholas Pooran and on odd occasions it was Marcus Stoinis. The absence of KL Rahul should have dealt a big blow as the team looked a bit rudderless after the opener left midway through injury.
Bowling is certainly the weaklink of Lucknow. Young spinner Ravi Bishnoi has been among the wickets, but he alone cannot make the difference. Medium-pacer Yash Thakur and Afghanistan left-arm pacer Naveen-ul-Haq also provided impressive performances in fits and starts but none bore the impact that would take them to victory.
Dropping in-form Kyle Mayers for the experienced Quinton de Kock towards the latter stages of the league has also backfired for Lucknow Super Giants. The West Indian had a few half-centuries and was giving brisk starts, while de Kock scored a 70 in his first match this season and after that he could not recreate the magic that he has done many times in the past during his IPL career.
Stand-in skipper Krunal Pandya took the blame upon himself for being the cause of the loss against his previous team Mumbai Indians.
"We were in a really good position. Everything started when I played that shot... that was not on, and I completely take all the blame. The wicket was the same. We just had to bat better, just take that responsibility. But we didn't do it after that break [the first time-out]," Krunal Pandya.
That’s only a miniscule of the problems. Unless Lucknow they strengthen the squad with more match-winners, Lucknow could end up like Royal Challengers Bangalore.