IPL 2022: Super Giants face Russell-inspired Knight Riders

Russell is the reason why KKR are still alive. He will be the biggest threat to LSG, writes Ayaz Memon

By Ayaz Memon

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Andre Russell of the Kolkata Knight Riders. (BCCI)
Andre Russell of the Kolkata Knight Riders. (BCCI)

Published: Wed 18 May 2022, 12:59 AM

Two back-to-back flop run chases have put Lucknow Super Giants in a quandary. Stuck on 16 points for a while, LSG are still strongly placed to make the playoffs. But a defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders tonight would leave them on a razor’s edge, with 4-5 other teams also in the running to reach the last four.

Against Gujarat Titans, LSG lost by 62 runs, unable to overhaul a modest 144, and earning the wrath of team mentor Gautam Gambhir, which became public when a video of their post-match meeting went viral.

Whether Gambhir had another meeting after the defeat in the previous game against Rajasthan Royals is unknown, but if he had, his admonishment would only have been stronger and sharper.

The margin of defeat this time was smaller, just 24 runs, but LSG’s performance was far shallower than that against the Titans. Poor fielding and some loose bowling, especially towards the end, allowed the Royals to reach 178.

At the innings break, however, this didn’t seem like a mighty target considering that 200-plus totals hadn’t been uncommon this season on the placid Brabourne Stadium pitches. Moreover, LSG’s have been among the best and deepest batting line-ups in the tournament.

The start wasn’t good, with both KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock falling cheaply. Deepak Hooda and Krunal Pandya staged a smart recovery, but couldn’t stay long enough to see their side through.

By the end of the match, LSG looked a ragged, error-prone outfit, not one touted as potential champions till just the other day.

What’s going wrong? Lack of runs from Rahul and De Kock, arguably the best opening pair in the tournament, has been one factor clearly in the last couple of games. With the batting struggling should white-ball specialist Marcus Stoinis be batting higher to face more deliveries?

LSG also need some runs from all-rounder Jason Holder.

The bowling has not slipped by much, but Dushmantha Chameera was expensive in the last match. Mohsin Khan, for many the best Indian young fast bowler to emerge from this tournament, showed some loss of control under pressure. Which raises another question about Stonis: is he being underbowled?

Even the best teams can have an off day, but two in a week is a big set back, specially at this stage of the tournament, and more so when Kolkata Knight Riders are experiencing a second wind.

Tim Southee has fit in impressively and Pat Cummins’ absence has barely been felt. After a longish barren run, Varun Chakravarthy found his rhythm in the previous match against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

But KKR’s strongest asset is undoubtedly Andre Russell. With 330 runs and 17 wickets, Russell has been immense, winning matches single-handedly, either with his brutal power-hitting or cut and seam bowling. Russell is the reason why KKR are still alive. He will be the biggest threat to LSG.

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