Tata IPL 2023 has gotten its first finalist in the form of the Chennai Super Kings. But the race to meet the Dhoni-led team is still on.
The Lucknow Super Giants and the Mumbai Indians will start this race in Eliminator. The teams will lock heads to decide who goes against the Gujarat Titans in the next stage. A loss here means instant elimination, so the teams will put their absolute best during the cricket match.
As the last two qualifying teams, MI and LSG would want to gain momentum in the game. Both squads have faced team issues in IPL 2023, but LSG has been a better performer than MI in multiple departments.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of LSG
On paper, LSG appears as a weaker team than RCB and RR. However, the team accumulated 17 points to reach the playoffs, unlike Bangalore and Rajasthan.
The team has no outright star who carries them, unlike most IPL teams. Instead, LSG relies on its reliable middle order and economical bowlers. The best batsman in LSG, Marcus Stoinis, has scored 368 runs till now.
The player looks ordinary when compared to Faf du Plessis’ 730 runs in IPL 2023. However, LSG makes it work with the help of Kyle Mayers and Nicolas Pooran. Together, the trio has scored over 1,000 runs for the team.
Moreover, the players come in clutch at the end of every inning, helping LSG put up a valiant performance.
However, ever since the team lost its captain KL Rahul, it has struggled to find a decent opening pair. Although Rahul was also struggling at the top, the loss of the veteran has hurt LSG immensely.
MI would certainly put pressure on LSG’s top order to put their middle order in an uncomfortable position. Moreover, the MI batsmen will try to exploit a lack of wicket-takers in the LSG bowling attack to put a huge score in front of them.
The Competition: Assessing the Rival and Challenges
The rivalry between MI and LSG is apparent. The Giants have defeated the Indians three times in a row.
Moreover, the team boasts multiple ex-Mumbai players, such as Krunal and Stoinis. The absence of both all-rounders has left MI in shambles, putting pressure on their batting lineup.
Although MI has failed to win against LSG even once, the key factor in the rivalry has been KL Rahul. The batsman scored two centuries against MI but is currently missing from the squad.
On the other hand, Mumbai batsmen have found their groove, especially Kishan and Suryakumar. Seeing how LSG does not have any legitimate wicket-taker, the strong MI batting is sure to put pressure on them.
LSG will have to strategically plan their bowling against key players like Kishan, Rohit, and Suryakumar. If they manage to restrict Kishan in the powerplay and Sky in the middle overs, LSG would have an easy time against MI.
The X-Factors: Key Players and Game-Changing Moments
The Lucknow Super Giants will rely on Quinton de Kock, Marcus Stoinis, and Nicholas Pooran to put extraordinary performances in front of MI.
The players have single-handedly won LSG games, especially while chasing. Nicholas Pooran did it while chasing 213 against RCB in Match 15. The player scored a whopping 19 balls 62 to help LSG cruise through. Ever since the performance, Pooran has been a popular fantasy pick on online cricket betting sites.
Similarly, Stoinis helped LSG win against MI in their only encounter in IPL 2023. The player scored 87 runs off 47 balls to post a decent score of 177. As for de Kock, the player has been crucial for LSG’s struggling top order ever since returning to the team.
The lefty has scored 143 runs in 4 matches at a strike rate of 140 to help the team get quick starts. If these three manage to fire on all cylinders, they will annihilate the struggling MI bowling attack.
The Coach’s Strategy: Guiding LSG’s Path
Losing key players like Mark Wood and KL Rahul put LSG in a tough spot from the get-go.
However, the experienced LSG management and coaching staff helped the team get back on track. It is no coincidence that LSG has three high-quality left-handers. The team has Gautam Gambhir as their batting coach, a professional who has proven his worth on numerous occasions. Moreover, Andy Flower, as the head coach, has helped the team discover talents like Ravi Bishnoi and Yash Thakur. The team has two South Africans in their dugout in the form of Jonty Rhodes (fielding coach) and Morne Morkel (bowling coach). It will be on these two to help LSG put pressure on MI’s batsmen, the only saving grace of the team.
Fan Support and Emotional Rollercoaster
MI is one of the most popular teams in the IPL, boasting names like Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav. Thus, the team is bound to have a huge fanbase on neutral ground. However, the LSG fanbase has grown immensely in its short IPL presence, supporting them throughout the competition.
The fans have supported the team even during their rough patch in IPL 2023. LSG had to wait till their last game to qualify for the playoffs, keeping the fans on edge throughout every game. But the addition of names like Gautam Gambhir, Morne Morkel, and Krunal Pandya has helped the team maintain its fan base across different venues.
LSG is one of the few teams who have a strong head-to-head record against MI. The team has beaten MI three out of three times in their previous encounter. However, their latest matchup will be challenging, especially in the absence of KL Rahul, their best player against MI. LSG will rely on de Kock to offer a strong start, assisting their reliable middle order.
However, the LSG middle order has proven its capability to destroy bowlers under difficult batting conditions too. If Bishnoi manages to get Sky out, LSG’s winning chances will skyrocket. The cricket match is sure to produce some excellent performances, with both teams boasting high-quality finishers. With the teams continuing their rivalry, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top to meet GT in Qualifier 2.