Led by Mr consistent KL Rahul, Lucknow Super Giants’ middle-order has been a ‘weak-link department’ in IPL 2022. Their top three batsmen, consisting of Rahul, Quinton de Kock, and Deepak Hooda have almost scored 65 per cent of the runs they have aggregated this season ahead of the Eliminator.
A potent team in T20 cricket requires a top-heavy batting unit. But that does not necessarily mean they can only have reliable batters upfront, and no one will be there when they fall like a house of cards.
Yes, a team may get certain success in a tournament with three quality top-order batters, but it won’t be enough for them to lift the title. Let us keep the bowling attack aside, at least for now.
The cricketing world is well aware of the fact of how tough the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been ever since its inception. Three franchises – Mumbai Indians (MI), Chennai Super Kings (CSK), and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) – have shared 11 titles between them in 14 editions so far. Considering the results, one can surely understand how dominant they have been over the years.
But the year 2022 is a bit different for the above-mentioned teams. They all finished at the bottom half of the points table at the end of the league stage, with the two most successful sides languishing at last. While in comparison, the two debutants – Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants – have made the Playoffs.
Ahead of IPL 2022, the Super Giants, led by KL Rahul, were considered one of the title contenders of the season. Their think tank, under Gautam Gambhir and Andy Flower, made some decent acquisitions bringing in Quinton de Kock, Jason Holder, and Krunal Pandya, at satisfactory prices from the mega auction. They had already drafted in Rahul, Marcus Stoinis, and Ravi Bishnoi ahead of the bidding wars and had thus successfully built a decent core.
When IPL 2022 was about the begin, the Super Giants were shocked by a piece of terrible news. They got to know that Mark Wood, whom they bought at INR 10 crore, was ruled out of the entire season due to a right elbow injury. Wood, along with Avesh Khan, was picked as their leading fast bowler. It was, of course, a massive blow for Rahul and his boys.
However, the Super Giants did not hold back despite the setback. They announced their arrival strongly, winning eight out of their first 11 matches. Four of them came on the bounce, against Mumbai Indians (MI), Punjab Kings (PBKS), Delhi Capitals (DC), and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
But then, in the final few games at the league stage, the Super Giants seemed a bit lacklustre. They lost back-to-back matches against the Titans and Rajasthan Royals (RR) and at some point, there was a slim concern regarding their qualification for the Playoffs. Eventually, a win against KKR guaranteed their berth and now, they are about to face Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Eliminator.
We didn’t come this far to only come this far. Eliminator ki hai taiyaari, #SuperGiants sab pe bhaari! #AbApniBaariHai💪 #IPL2022 🏆 #bhaukaalmachadenge #lsg #LucknowSuperGiants #T20 #TataIPL #Lucknow #UttarPradesh #LSG2022 pic.twitter.com/CWktnVwxLS— Lucknow Super Giants (@LucknowIPL) May 23, 2022
Despite Wood’s absence, the Super Giants boast of having a disciplined bowling unit, featuring Avesh, Bishnoi, Krunal, and the newest find, Mohsin Khan. They arguably have the most stable left-right openers in de Kock and Rahul, and promoting Deepak Hooda to No. 3 ahead of off-coloured Manish Pandey has worked out quite well. All three have scored more than 400 runs each this season, which has been a key reason why they've made the Playoffs.
KL Rahul | 14 Innings | 537 Runs | 48.82 Average | 135.26 Strike Rate
Quinton de Kock | 14 Innings | 502 Runs | 38.62 Average | 149.40 Strike Rate
Deepak Hooda | 13 Innings | 406 Runs | 31.23 Average | 133.55 Strike Rate
But there is a problem, a serious one actually. Nearly 65 per cent of the runs which have the Super Giants have scored this year, have come from their top-three batters and that, statistically, indicates how little the others have contributed with the bat. They had the chance to flourish, even when they were chasing a below-par 145 against the Titans around two weeks ago, but all they could manage was 82. They were even skittled out in 13.5 overs.
Losing all ten wickets inside 83 balls, that too by a team who bat deep, clearly shows how irresponsible they were. Credits to the Titans bowlers for folding them out for a meagre total but they did not put any resistance either.
The Titans fixture was not the only time when the Super Giants collectively failed to perform with the bat. In fact, barring Ayush Badoni’s memorable debut knock, none of their batters, who come between No. 4 and 7, has notched up fifty even once. They might not have got chances on a regular basis because of their top three’s performance but they failed to produce substantial scores more often than not.
Krunal Pandya | 12 Innings | 183 Runs | 22.87 Average | 127.08 Strike Rate
Marcus Stoinis | 9 Innings | 147 Runs | 21 Average | 151.54 Strike Rate
Ayush Badoni | 11 Innings | 161 Runs | 20.12 Average | 123.84 Strike Rate
Jason Holder | 8 innings | 58 Runs | 9.66 Average | 131.81 Strike Rate
From here on, the Super Giants must win three matches on the trot to win the coveted trophy in their debut season but history is against them. As only once in the past 14 editions, a franchise has achieved the feat (SRH in 2016).
Now, only time will tell if the Super Giants can repeat the same for the elusive glory but, even if it happens, there is a little chance about their top three batters firing on all three occasions. Let the others step up now to guide them to be a part of history.