IPL 2022 | Have Lucknow Super Giants done enough to make statement in debut season

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KL Rahul, Lucknow Super Giants captain

SportsCafe Graphics Team

IPL 2022 | Have Lucknow Super Giants done enough to make statement in debut season

The 2022 edition of the IPL has grown in teams, fixtures, and season length, courtesy of the additions of two new franchises. One of them is Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), owned by RPSG Group, who shelled out a record-breaking 7,090 crore to ensure a place in the slightly-tweaked ten-team tournament.

To solidify the link with their former franchise Rising Pune Supergiant, the RPSG Group, headed by Sanjiv Goenka, chose the name of the Lucknow-based franchise, despite claiming it was decided after a fans’ poll. But before that, they contracted Andy Flower and Gautam Gambhir as the head coach and the mentor respectively to lead their backroom staff with their expertise and experience.

To become more commercially viable, Lucknow drafted KL Rahul for a whopping INR 17 crore, making him the highest-paid player in the 15th edition. Alongside him, they acquired Marcus Stoinis for INR 9.2 crore, and Ravi Bishnoi for INR 4 crore before heading to the 2022 auction hall in Bengaluru.

From the auction, Lucknow added 18 more players to their roster, while splurging money on Avesh Khan (INR 10 cr), Jason Holder (INR 8.75 cr), Krunal Pandya ( INR 8.25 cr), Mark Wood (INR 7.5 cr), and Quinton de Kock (INR 6.25 cr). In the process, Avesh became the highest-paid uncapped player in the auctions’ history.

Unfortunately, Wood will miss IPL 2022 after injuring his right elbow earlier this month during England’s tour of the West Indies. Lucknow, as Wood’s replacement, then brought in Australia’s Andrew Tye. Despite the setback, the debutant franchise still has one of the strongest squads amongst the ten.

Let us have a look at Lucknow Super Giants’ full squad for IPL 2022:

KL Rahul (c),  Quinton de Kock (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Ravi Bishnoi, Manish Pandey, Jason Holder, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Avesh Khan, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, K Gowtham, Dushmantha Chameera, Shahbaz Nadeem, Manan Vohra, Mohsin Khan, Ayush Badoni, Kyle Mayers, Karan Sharma, Evin Lewis, Mayank Yadav, Andrew Tye.

Explosive openers

With Rahul and de Kock at the top, Lucknow boast of having two of the most consistent T20 openers in their mix. While Rahul’s numbers in the past four editions (659 runs at a strike rate of 158.41 in 2018, 593 at 135.38 in 2019, 670 at 129.34 in 2020, 626 at 138.80 in 2021) at Punjab Kings (formerly Kings XI Punjab) have established him as one of the all-time greats in the league’s history, de Kock’s contributions (529 at 132.91 in 2019, 503 at 140.50 in 2020) at Mumbai Indians (MI) for helping them to back-to-back titles is neither ignorable.

KL Rahul's batting records in IPL © SportsCafe Graphics Team

Considering de Kock’s calibre, it was smart business from Lucknow to get him at INR 6.25 crore. The 29-year-old South African batter did not have a memorable IPL 2021 with MI, aggregating a mere 297 runs in 11 outings at a questionable strike rate of 116.01, and will be desperately looking to regain confidence.

Decent middle-order batters with all-round options

Lucknow played a gamble by signing Manish Pandey, the first Indian to hit a century in IPL (in 2009), for INR 4.6 crore. The 32-year-old Karnataka-born cricketer was an IPL sensation once, but had not been at his fluent best in the last few seasons for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). Despite scoring runs more often than not, he has often been criticised due to his strike rate. Still, Manish, a veteran of aggregating more than 3,500 IPL runs, will be preferred as Lucknow’s No. 3. However, if they go with an aggressive approach, Stoinis can bat at that position as well, mainly because of his astounding repertoire of shots. If that happens, Manish will be demoted as a No. 4, and Deepak Hooda and Krunal Pandya – who had a not-so-memorable off-field controversy while playing for Baroda last year – will follow him.

Quinton de Kock's batting records in IPL © SportsCafe Graphics Team

Both Hooda and Krunal, excellent on the field, can score a decent amount of runs with the bat, as well as the spin bowling options if required. Krunal, particularly, will be used more as an all-rounder, considering his hefty price tag on his back. The long line of all-rounders will continue with Jason Holder at No. 7. Last season Holder was the second-highest wicket-taker (16 wickets at an economy rate of 7.75) for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) after Rashid Khan, despite playing just eight matches. It was enough for him to bag an expensive IPL contract, and he will be eager to add more value to his new team by pitching in as a finisher.

Fragile bowling attack

Despite having the presence of Avesh and Bishnoi, Lucknow’s bowling attack does not seem as lethal as they would have hoped.  Avesh, 25, had a breakthrough season with Delhi Capitals (DC) last year, when he snared 24 wickets at an impressive economy rate of 7.37, averaging 18.75. Now, time will tell whether he was a one-season wonder or here to stay, but fair to say, he does not have potent pacers around him like he used to have at DC.

Avesh Khan's bowling records in IPL © SportsCafe Graphics Team

Bishnoi at INR 4 crore, without a doubt, was a steal by Lucknow. The 21-year-old leg-spinner from Jodhpur has often been called one of the next big things in Indian cricket. So far in two IPL seasons, Bishnoi has picked up 24 wickets (in 23 games) at an economy of under seven. Since taking 11 wickets in IPL 2018, Krishnappa Gowtham has made little impact in the tournament. Considering his ability as a handy batter lower down the order, he is likely to be Bishnoi’s spin partner. Similarly, Tye’s best IPL season came in 2018 as well, when he scalped 24 wickets in 14 matches for Punjab earning himself a Purple Cap at the end of the tournament. 

Notably, Lucknow may opt for the Sri Lankan spearhead Dushmantha Chameera ahead of Tye, but it would not make them look more lethal.

Lucknow Super Giants’ strongest possible XI for IPL 2022: Quinton de Kock (wk), KL Rahul (C), Manish Pandey, Marcus Stoinis, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Jason Holder, Krishnappa Gowtham,  Andrew Tye, Avesh Khan, Ravi Bishnoi.

Lucknow does have a bunch of Indians who have been known faces to almost every cricket fan. They are pooled into Group A, alongside Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals, and Delhi Capitals, and it will not be an easy task for them to get a place in the Playoffs. But on paper, they have built a squad that can surely challenge their opponents with an idiosyncratic method.

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