63rd Match (N), Brabourne, May 15, 2022, Indian Premier League
(20 ov, T:179) 154/8

Royals won by 24 runs


LSG and Royals seek win to avoid mid-table logjam

While Royals search for solutions to make up for Hetmyer's absence, LSG might ponder giving Evin Lewis a game

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar

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IPL 2022 has entered that phase where every result can boost or damage a team's playoff chances severely.
Lucknow Super Giants are second on the points table with 16 points from 12 games and a win against Rajasthan Royals on Sunday will see them through to the playoffs. Just below them are Royals, with 14 points from 12 games. Currently, they control their own destiny but can ill-afford a defeat, because then they may have to rely on other results going their way.
One reason behind Super Giants' and Royals' success is having largely settled playing XIs. However, both teams do have an Achilles' heel.
For Super Giants, it's that one middle-order slot. They started with Manish Pandey but he didn't have much success. In their previous match, they even handed an IPL debut to Karan Sharma. So far, the presence of quality allrounders has made up for that weakness. But does that mean they keep continuing in the same manner?
For Royals, Jos Buttler and Shimron Hetmyer did the bulk of the scoring in the first half of the season. Hetmyer is now unavailable, and despite Yashasvi Jaiswal and Devdutt Padikkal showing some form, their batting depth remains suspect. At times they have promoted R Ashwin up the order with decent returns. Do they stick with the same combination, or bring in James Neesham for Kuldeep Sen? While Sen offers extra pace, his economy rate (9.41) has been on the higher side.

In the news

Royals have signed uncapped South African allrounder Corbin Bosch as a replacement for Nathan Coulter-Nile. Bosch, 27, is a seam-bowling allrounder and bats in the lower middle order.

Likely XIs

Lucknow Super Giants: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 KL Rahul (capt), 3 Deepak Hooda, 4 Karan Sharma/Evin Lewis, 5 Krunal Pandya, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Ayush Badoni, 8 K Gowtham/Jason Holder, 9 Mohsin Khan, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Avesh Khan
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 2 Jos Buttler, 3 Devdutt Padikkal, 4 Sanju Samson (capt & wk), 5 Rassie van der Dussen, 6 Riyan Parag, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Trent Boult, 9 Prasidh Krishna, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Kuldeep Sen

Strategy punts

  • The conventional wisdom in T20s is that batters find it easier to attack if the ball is spinning into them. But here is an exception: Yuzvendra Chahal, a legspinner, has dismissed Quinton de Kock, a left-hand batter, six times in 39 balls while conceding just 44 runs. On the other hand, KL Rahul, a right-hand batter, has smashed Chahal for 106 runs off 67 balls in T20 cricket while getting out only once. So Royals should use Chahal accordingly, perhaps bringing him on earlier if Rahul is the first batter dismissed.
  • To counter Super Giants' opening pair, Royals could also give the new ball to Ashwin. He has dismissed de Kock four times for 84 runs in 75 balls. While Ashwin is yet to dismiss Rahul, he has given away only 16 runs off 20 balls against him.
  • If Super Giants want to continue using Marcus Stoinis as a finisher, Evin Lewis could come into the side to fill that hole in the upper middle order. For that, they will have to leave out Jason Holder, which shouldn't impact their bowling much given how Mohsin Khan has stepped up. In place of Holder, they could bring in K Gowtham. With two left-handers in Royals' top four, playing an offspinner in the XI will not be a bad idea.

Stats that matter

  • With 459 runs in 12 innings, Rahul is currently the second-highest run-scorer this season behind Buttler (625). But he has also been dismissed five times in single digits, including three times on zero.
  • Trent Boult has dismissed Rahul twice, including a first-ball duck earlier this season, but Rahul has taken 110 runs off 63 balls against him.
  • Avesh Khan is the only bowler in IPL 2022 with five or more wickets in each phase (powerplay, middle overs, death).
  • Among those who have bowled at least ten overs in IPL 2022, Mohsin has the best economy rate (5.19).
  • Boult has an economy rate of 14.28 at the death, the third-worst in the tournament.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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