66th Match (N), DY Patil, May 18, 2022, Indian Premier League

Super Giants won by 2 runs


Middle order a worry for Super Giants with playoffs so near yet so far

A win for Knight Riders, meanwhile, could spice up the remainder of the league phase

S Sudarshanan
Krunal Pandya and Deepak Hooda had a repair job on their hands, Lucknow Super Giants vs Rajasthan Royals, IPL 2022, Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, May 15, 2022

From Nos. 3 to 6, Lucknow Super Giants' batters have the worst average of all teams this season  •  BCCI

Big picture

Kolkata Knight Riders and their opening partnership don't really see eye to eye. They've already used five combinations this season, and finally managed to get their first 50-plus opening stand through Venkatesh Iyer and Ajinkya Rahane two games ago. But with Rahane ruled out of the competition, they will be forced to tweak their opening pairing yet again.
Lucknow Super Giants had their opening combination pretty much decided on the day of the auction. Their average of 36.13 for the first wicket is the second-best in IPL 2022. But their batting problems start after the pair of Quinton de Kock and KL Rahul is separated.
From Nos. 3 to 6, Super Giants' batters have averaged 21.88, which is the worst of any team this season. They have attempted to use the flexibility offered by their plethora of allrounders to maximise match-ups, trying as many as nine batters - including K Gowtham, Jason Holder and Karan Sharma - at Nos. 3 and 4 alone. But it hasn't always worked, and the middle order has turned into an area of weakness.
Despite having 16 points from 13 games, Super Giants are yet to nail a playoffs spot - they are in a comfortable positions thanks to a net run-rate of 0.262 - but they'll want to fix their batting issues to ensure they seal their spot, having fallen well short in run chases in their last two matches.
Super Giants will go through if they win Wednesday's game at the DY Patil Stadium. A win for Knight Riders, however, will add considerable spice to the final set of league-stage contests.

In the news

A hamstring injury brought the curtains down on Rahane's journey this season. Knight Riders could go back to B Indrajith at the top of the order alongside Venkatesh, which would be their sixth opening combination of the season.

Likely XIs

Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 B Indrajith, 2 Venkatesh Iyer, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Sam Billings (wk), 6 Rinku Singh, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Sunil Narine, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Varun Chakravarthy
Lucknow Super Giants: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 KL Rahul (capt), 3 Deepak Hooda, 4 Krunal Pandya, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Ayush Badoni, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Avesh Khan, 9 Mohsin Khan, 10 Ravi Bishnoi, 11 Dushmantha Chameera

Strategy punt

Knight Riders have lost 38 wickets to short or short-of-good-length balls from fast bowlers, the most by any side in IPL 2022. Super Giants successfully exploited this weakness the last time these teams met, and could look to emulate the same plans this time. Of all batters who have faced 50 short or short-of-good-length balls from fast bowlers this season, nine have scored less than seven runs an over against those lengths, and three of them - Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer and Nitish Rana - play for Knight Riders.

Stats that matter

  • Among fast bowlers to have bowled at least 15 overs in IPL 2022, Mohsin Khan (6.1), Umesh Yadav (6.9) and Tim Southee (7.0) have been the most economical.
  • Rahul has scored only 101 runs in Super Giants' last five games, at an average of 20.20 and a strike rate of 104.12. In his first eight games of the season, he had scored 368 runs at 61.33 and 147.79.
  • Super Giants' run-rate of 11.30 at the death is the best of any teamin IPL 2022, while Knight Riders are at the bottom of that list at 9.82.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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