Can Lucknow Super Giants draw first blood is the question ?
Lucknow: KL Rahul, who is leading the Lucknow Super Giants after being relieved of the responsibility of the Indian team’s vice-captain, will lead with the bat in front of him when he takes the field against Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League (IPL). There will be a challenge to prove the skill as well.
The Lucknow team will play at their home ground for the first time. Under the leadership of Rahul, the team reached the playoffs in its inaugural season of the league last year, but Rahul’s bat has not lived up to the expectations for some time now.
The Delhi team has suffered a blow to its title prospects in the absence of Rishabh Pant but they have an aggressive opener like David Warner as their captain. Warner, who led Sunrisers Hyderabad to the title under his leadership, would like to achieve similar success for Delhi as well. Coach Ricky Ponting’s team, however, would expect more from Mitchell Marsh than Warner. Marsh hit 12 sixes in the three-match ODI series against India.
If Warner and opener Prithvi Shaw fail to provide a quick start to the team, then Marsh can make up for it in two-three overs. Warner is one of the most successful batsmen in the IPL but his performance has declined in the recent past.
Sarfaraz Khan will have the additional pressure of wicketkeeping and Yash Dhull is still young, so the team will expect Axar Patel to bat fast in the last overs. Foreign bowlers like Enrique Norquia and Mustafizur Rahman will not be available for selection in this tie due to serving the national team.
Delhi’s fast bowling department lacks quality players from India. Khaleel Ahmed is making a comeback after a back operation while Ishant Sharma is no longer the pace bowler he used to be. The eight-over spin bowling of Akshar and Kuldeep Yadav will be crucial for the team.
Lucknow will have to think a lot about the selection of the one who will open the innings with Rahul. The team will miss the opening two matches of experienced wicket-keeper batsman Quinton Dickock, who will be arriving in India late due to national team services.
In such a situation, Kyle Myers or Deepak Hooda of West Indies can start the innings with Rahul. Myers has done well for the West Indies while Hooda has also scored a century as an opener for India.
There is a lack of sharpness in the fast bowling of the team. Mohsin Khan, who was impressive last year, is out for the opening matches due to injury. Mark Wood is also often injured, in such a situation, the responsibility will be on Avesh Khan and Jaidev Unadkat.
The biggest strength of the team though is the list of all-rounders. India has international all-rounders like Marcus Stoinis, Daniel Sams, Myers and Romario Shepherd along with Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Krishnappa Gautam, Prerak Mankad. The spin department will have the likes of experienced Indian bowler Amit Mishra along with Ravi Bishnoi.
Delhi Capitals: David Warner (Captain), Prithvi Shaw, Mitchell Marsh, Manish Pandey, Rovman Powell, Riley Rossouw, Sarfaraz Khan, Phil Salt, Abhishek Porel, Akshar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Lalit Yadav, Ripple Patel, Ishant Sharma, Chetan Sakaria , Khalil Ahmed, Aman Hakim Khan, Praveen Dubey, Kamlesh Nagerkoti, Yash Dhul, Mukesh Kumar, Vicky Ostwal.
Lucknow Super Giants: Lokesh Rahul (Captain), Kyle Myers, Deepak Hooda, Kunal Pandya, Amit Mishra, Nicholas Pooran, Naveen Ul Haq, Ayush Badoni, Avesh Khan, Karan Sharma, Yudhveer Charak, Yash Thakur, Romario Shepherd, Mark Wood, Swapnil Singh, Manan Vohra, Daniel Symes, Prerak Mankad, Krishnappa Gautam, Jaydev Unadkat, Marcus Stoinis, Ravi Bishnoi, Mayank Yadav.