Match Preview – Super Giants vs Punjab Kings, Indian Premier League 2023, 21st Match
Big picture: Lucknow’s Kings
KL Rahul captaining. Andy Flower in the coaching staff. Deepak Hooda and Nicholas Pooran in the middle order. K Gowtham and Ravi Bishnoi bowling spin. There are several similarities between Punjab Kings’ class of 2020 and Lucknow Super Giants’ 2023 vintage, but one clear difference so far: results.
While Kings finished that season in sixth, Super Giants are among the early pace-setters this year. They have already established themselves as a team who are hard to beat at home, winning both games at the Ekana Stadium, and their last-gasp win at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Monday night means they are joint-top of the nascent league table with three wins from four.
Several of those former Kings players will be particularly keen to perform against their old franchise on Saturday night, but none more so than Pooran. The West Indies left-hander had a miserable final year for Kings in 2021, making 85 runs at 7.72 across the season, and was released ahead of the mega auction.
Since then, Pooran has averaged 40.63 and struck at 161.95 in the IPL, bringing his Sunrisers Hyderabad form from 2022 into the early stages of this season. Super Giants invested heavily in him, spending INR 16 crore to buy him in December’s auction; the early signs are that he is worth the money.
Form guide (most recent match first)
Lucknow Super Giants: WWLW
Punjab Kings: LLWW
Team news: Livingstone still a doubt?
Kyle Mayers’ early success at the top of the order has seen Quinton de Kock carrying drinks since his arrival in India, but Super Giants may look to make a change after Mayers’ back-to-back failures against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“We’re just monitoring him for the next couple of days to see where he’s at. He’s just come back from a long-term injury.” He appears unlikely to feature on Saturday, but could come into contention to play against RCB next week.
There is also a chance Kings will consider rotating their seamers, playing their second game in 48 hours. If so, Kagiso Rabada – who was expensive against Gujarat Titans – might make way for Nathan Ellis again.
Toss and Impact Player strategy
Lucknow Super Giants
Super Giants have used Ayush Badoni as their Impact Player when bowling first this season, and could bring him in for Amit Mishra like they did in their one-wicket win over Royal Challengers. If they bat first, Mishra – or another bowler – could replace Badoni.
Possible bat-first XI: 1 Quinton de Kock, 2 KL Rahul (capt), 3 Deepak Hooda, 4 Krunal Pandya, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 7 Ayush Badoni, 8 Jaydev Unadkat, 9 Mark Wood, 10 Ravi Bishnoi, 11 Avesh Khan
Possible bowl-first XI: 1 Quinton de Kock, 2 KL Rahul (capt), 3 Deepak Hooda, 4 Krunal Pandya, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 7 Amit Mishra/Krishnappa Gowtham, 8 Jaydev Unadkat, 9 Mark Wood, 10 Ravi Bishnoi, 11 Avesh Khan
Rahul Chahar came into Kings’ team halfway through their defeat to Titans on Thursday, and will likely replace either Prabhsimran Singh or Bhanuka Rajapaksa during the innings break if they bat first again. If they bowl, they will probably pick an extra bowler and then sub a batter in.
Possible bat-first XI: 1 Prabhsimran Singh, 2 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 3 Matthew Short, 4 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 5 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 6 Sam Curran, 7 M Shahrukh Khan, 8 Harpreet Brar, 9 Rishi Dhawan, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Arshdeep Singh
Possible bowl-first XI: 1 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 2 Matthew Short, 3 Bhanuka Rajapaksa/Prabhsimran Singh, 4 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 5 Sam Curran, 6 M Shahrukh Khan, 7 Harpreet Brar, 8 Rishi Dhawan, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Rahul Chahar, 11 Arshdeep Singh
Stats that matter
- Shikhar Dhawan has dominated Jaydev Unadkat when they have faced one another in the IPL, scoring 70 runs off 44 balls against him for once out.
- Super Giants’ innings of 193 for 6 in their first home game this season was the first time in 16 T20s held in Lucknow that a team had posted a score in excess of 190.
- This will only be the second meeting between these teams, following Super Giants’ 20-run victory last season.
Pitch and conditions
Keep a close eye on the colour of the soil used at the Ekana Stadium. Lucknow played their first home game against Delhi Capitals on a red-soil pitch which played relatively true; in their second, against Sunrisers, they played on a black-soil pitch which offered sharp turn from the outset. The venue is quickly becoming a fortress for them, with two home wins from two so far.
“Watching the game last [Thursday] night, it came down to the last two balls, even on the Mohali wicket which is a really good wicket. We must respect their bowling line-up: they have international experience and quality spinners.”
Nicholas Pooran expects Kings’ bowlers to pose a challenge after watching their efforts against Gujarat Titans.
“Whenever a team plays 56 dot balls, they end up losing the game so we have to rectify that. And of course, losing early wickets puts the batting side on the back foot and we have to work on that.”
Shikhar Dhawan bemoans Kings’ struggles with the bat on Thursday night.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98