Sunrisers in must-win territory; Super Giants’ margin for error fast closing

Sunrisers in must-win territory; Super Giants’ margin for error fast closing

Big Picture: Four games in eight days for Sunrisers

The IPL is all about momentum in the back-half, something Lucknow Super Giants haven’t had. They last won more than two weeks ago, and have since grappled with their captain’s exit, and juggling their overseas combinations under a new stand-in. Two losses and a no-result in their last three games haven’t helped.

Yet, their good work in the first half means a playoff spot for the second-year running isn’t entirely out of bounds. But to get there, they will still need to win at least two of their three remaining games – ideally all three – beginning with the one against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday.

For starters, they’d be glad it’s an away game, on a surface that will potentially offer more value to the batters than the ones they’ve had to play on back home. It’ll be a welcome change from the slow burns that has negated their home advantage greatly; they’ve won two and lost three so far.

Their strategy has come in for much scrutiny after conceding 227 in a massive loss to the Gujarat Titans. Could they have promoted Nicholas Pooran and Marcus Stones up the order, instead of Deepak Hooda, especially with a strong base at 102 for 1 in 10 overs? Did they err in picking an undercooked Mohsin Khan at a crucial juncture? Why did Ravi Bishnoi bowl just two overs? There are so many questions to answer.

Sunrisers are coming off a jailbreak against Rajasthan Royals, but that was over five days ago. They’ve had plenty of rest before this game kickstarts what promises to be a hectic final week; they’ll play four games in eight days to round off the league phase. Every game is a must-win for them, and the margins for error are minimal.

Like Super Giants, they’ve had to tinker around with their combinations, mostly with the batting. Two of their big-ticket signings – Mayank Agarwal and Harry Brook – have had to make way after underwhelming returns, while Glenn Phillips will be keen to build on his Player-of-the-match winning 7-ball 25 lower down the order.

Beyond line-ups, strategies and results, the contest will throw up a tantalising prospect of watching legspinners of varied experience and skill go up against another. There’s Bishnoi and Amit Mishra from Super Giants, and Mayank Markande for Sunrisers. And the relatively bigger boundaries in Uppal could bring them all into play.

The Super Giants spinners ran riot and exposed Sunrisers’ lack of left-handedness when the two sides last met. Spinners combined to take 6 for 57 in a low-scoring game that Super Giants won comfortably, by five wickets.

A win for Sunrisers this time will allow them to join the 10-point logjam, while Super Giants can consolidate a spot in the top-four should they pocket two points. It’s all to play for then.

Recent results

Sunrisers Hyderabad WLWLL (last five matches, most recent first)

Lucknow Super Giants LNLWL

Should Nicholas Pooran be batting in the top four for LSG?

1.8K votes

Yes, it will strengthen them in KL Rahul’s absence

No, he’s best suited to be play finisher

Impact Player Strategy

Mishra could be subbed out for a Ayush Badoni when Super Giants bat. Sunrisers will possibly bring in T Natarajan when they bowl and sub him with Rahul Tripathi when they bat.

Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 Anmolpreet Singh, 2 Abhishek Sharma, 3 Rahul Tripathi, 4 Aiden Markram (capt), 5 Glenn Phillips, 6 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 7 Abdul Samad, 8 Vivrant Sharma, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Marco Jansen, 11 Mayank Markande, 12 T Natarajan

Lucknow Super Giants: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Kyle Mayers, 3 Krunal Pandya (capt), 4 Marcus Stoinis, 5 Nicholas Pooran, 6 Ayush Badoni, 7 Deepak Hooda, 8 Ravi Bishnoi, 9 Avesh Khan, 10 Mohsin Khan, 11 K Gowtham, 12 Amit Mishra

Stats that matter: Can Sunrisers’ misfiring batters step up?

  • Quinton de Kock’s strike rate of 97 against Bhuvneshwar Kumar is his second-lowest among bowlers off whom he’s scored fifty runs or more. The raw numbers read: 59 runs off 61 balls for one dismissal. So, this is a match-up that could set the tempo for the innings either way.
  • Krunal Pandya has a particularly favourable match-up against Tripathi, having dismissed him three times in six innings while also conceding at less than a run-a-ball.
  • Sunrisers have the least number of fifty-plus totals (six) among all teams this season, with no batter among the nine to have crossed the 300-run mark. This lack of form among batters has had a direct impact on their scoring in the powerplay, which at 7.7 an over is the slowest among all teams.
  • Pitch and conditions

    Temperatures have touched 40 degrees celsius and it’s only going to get hotter. The rains that had lashed the city earlier in the month seem to have abated for the moment. Dew has been minimal. Tracks have largely offered consistent bounce and some movement for the seamers. Spinners haven’t quite been as successful in terms of wickets taken but have been more economical.

    Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

    (With Inputs from ESPN)

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