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Rahul on LSG missing the playoffs: 'Injuries and the guys that went away really dented us'

LSG head coach Langer felt dropped catches "really killed us in the end"

Abhimanyu Bose
Lucknow Super Giants' win over Mumbai Indians in their last game of the season was not enough to take them to the playoffs, but it was the kind of performance their captain KL Rahul wanted more of throughout the season.
LSG finished on 14 points and occupied sixth spot on table - level with fourth-placed Chennai Super Kings, who still have a game to play on Saturday - but their net run rate of -0.667 was not enough to push them into the top four.
"At the beginning of the season, I really felt that we had a strong team and had most bases covered," Rahul said after the game. "[We had] a couple of injuries obviously, which happens every season to every team, but those injuries and the guys that went away really dented us a little bit, and we didn't play well enough collectively.
"When the bowlers had a good game, the batters wouldn't have a good game. We just didn't come together as much as we would have wanted to."
Rahul's comments were echoed by LSG head coach Justin Langer, who said they wanted to try a few new tricks in their last game, and that included opening with Devdutt Padikkal in place of Quinton de Kock. But the Padikkal move did not pay off - he was trapped lbw for a golden duck by Nuwan Thushara - and LSG soon found themselves in a familiar position of losing early wickets.
They were 69 for 3 in the tenth over but Nicholas Pooran's whirlwind 29-ball 75 revivied them. It also helped Rahul accelerate from 29 off 28 to finish on 55 off 41 and took the side to 214.
LSG had come into the season with a reputation for defending totals, and they lived up to it the first three times they batted first. However, their bowling took a hit in the second half of the competition, with injuries to key bowlers like Mohsin Khan and Mayank Yadav, and they struggled to defend totals.
But in Mumbai, even after the hosts enjoyed an 88-run opening stand in 8.4 overs, their bowling unit came together to effectively blunt the opposition by the 15th over. Naman Dhir, batting at No. 7, gave them a scare with a 28-ball 62 not out, but LSG got through.
Langer acknowledged that they missed the services of Mayank and Mohsin, but felt that their sloppy fielding "really killed us in the end".
"I think dropped catches cost us," Langer said at the post-game press conference. "If you go back to the Delhi game at home, we dropped [Jake] Fraser-McGurk on 17 [24] off Marcus Stoinis. And I think he hit 26 [21] runs off the next over and it really kickstarted his whole season. I saw a stat today that we've dropped a lot of catches. We've probably got the best fielding coach in the world [Jonty Rhodes] and we dropped some catches. And often it's [something] as simple as that to [decide] the outcome of the season.
"We missed Mayank, he was huge. Mohsin [Khan] had quite a sore back for some of the tournament. But I think dropped catches is the thing that really killed us in the end."
But against MI, LSG held on to all their chances - five catches taken on the field. Krunal Pandya and Ravi Bishnoi took a brilliant catch each to send Dewald Brevis and Suryakumar Yadav, respectively, packing.
"Today was a really good performance," Rahul said. "This is the kind of game we wanted to play more where batters are scoring, and bowlers are doing their job. Unfortunately, we didn't do that, so we find ourselves here."

Abhimanyu Bose is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo