IPL 2022: Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) big on express pace, but lack batting depth

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Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), one of the two new teams in IPL 2022, came into the auction with a purse of Rs 59 Cr, and by the time it got over, they were left with just 10 lakhs and a total of 21 players , the smallest squad amongst the 10. Their trajectory over the two days of the auction was almost opposite to that of CSK. They started off well, getting several big names at what seemed like good bargains at that stage, but by the end of Day 1, they had 11 players in their squad, with at least 7 and at most 14 slots left to fill, and only 6.9 Cr remaining. That severely crippled their hands on Day 2.

They did eventually end up buying 10 more players, but could go beyond the base price for only 2 of them, Krishnappa Gowtham and Ankit Rajpoot. Consequently, they were not able to fill all the gaps as well as they would have likedand have ended up with a squad with too many all-rounders and too few proper middle-order batters. Let’s try to break it down.

IPL 2022 LSG Squad: Openers Lucknow Super Giants

KL Rahul, Quinton de Kock, Manan Vohra, Evin Lewis, Kyle Myers

LSG have invested heavily on quality openers. Almost too heavily. They have as many as 4 capped and 1 uncapped opening options. Among them, KL Rahul and QDK are almost certain to be the first choice openers, which will mean that they will most probably have to bench Evin Lewis, one of the most explosive T20 openers going around.

That they clearly messed up their plans and calculations on Day 2 can be gauged by the fact that they picked up Kyle Myers, an unproven left handed T20 opener (only 6 innings opening the batting in T20s), before Lewis, someone who has an average of 33.68 and a SR of 152.76 as an opener in all T20s since 2020.

IPL 2022 LSG Squad: Middle-order Lucknow Super Giants

Middle Order Batters : Karan Sharma, Manish Pandey

Local lad Karan Sharma, 23 year old RHB, is one of only two proper middle order batters in the squad. While he has been more than decent for UP in the shortest format (average of 33.44 and SR of 136.19), he is still very early into his career (only played 10 T20s), and will find it difficult to get a game in the presence of bigger names. That leaves Manish Pandey as the only senior, capped, pure batter who has experience playing in the middle order. While Manish has technically always been a middle order batter in all formats and at all levels, his struggles in the middle overs have been well documented off late.

Since 2020, he has had a SR of 114.11 in the middle overs. He is at his best when he is batting in the PP (average 129, SR 136.51, Balls Per Boundary 4.61 since 2020) and the ideal position for him to be able to do that would have been opening. But with the stellar opening cast which LSG already have, Manish will have to take up the number 3 role. And while that is not the worst thing, given KL’s propensity to take all the responsibility of the innings on his shoulders (especially when the middle order lacks stability), LSG might have a situation where they have two anchors (one by design, another by choice) batting together in the first half of the innings.

IPL 2022 LSG Squad: Spin all-rounders Lucknow Super Giants

Spin-bowling All Rounders : Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Krishnappa Gowtham, Ayush Badoni

As already mentioned, the squad lacks proper middle order batters, and that means a lot of the responsibility of getting the team to good totals will fall on Deepak Hooda and Krunal Pandya. Hooda has been decent in the middle overs, having an average of 25.17 and a SR of 132.46 in this phase since 2020. He was with PBKS for the last 2 seasons, and had a decent time batting alternatively between 4, 5, and 6 , out of which he had the most success at 4. LSG will be looking to give him a similar role of a spin-basher in the middle overs.

Krunal Pandya’s returns have been on a steep decline for the last couple of years. He has batted at 7 for the major part of last 2 IPLs and has an average of just 16.17 and a SR of 132.88 to show for. If that looks bad, his bowling numbers have been even worse. 12 wickets in 27 innings at an average of 52.17 and an ER of 7.79 since 2020. Given the balance of the squad, he will be a certainty in the XI, and will have to pull up his socks if LSG are to have a decent season. The other options are Krishnappa Gowtham and Ayush Badoni.

Gowtham was bought for a whopping 9.25 Cr by CSK last year but didn’t play a game. He can use the long handle to good effect and can be slotted in at number 8. Badoni meanwhile, is a 22 year old right arm off spinner from Delhi who shot to limelight in 2018 when he picked 6 wickets and scored a counter-attacking 187* from number 7 in a youth test against Sri Lanka. Although it seems improbable that he will get a game, but he can smack it big and fit in the number 7/8 spot if required.

IPL 2022 LSG Squad: Pace all-rounders Lucknow Super Giants

Pace-bowling All Rounders : Marcus Stoinis, Jason Holder

Marcu Stoinis has had a good couple of seasons for DC, and they would desperately hope that he carries on the same form. Along with Deepak Hooda, he will make up the core of the middle order for LSG. Depending on the match situation, he can come in at either 4 (average of 62.5 and SR of 219.30 since 2020) or 5 (average of 28.47 and SR of 144.91 since 2020). He is also more than handy with the ball. DC tried using him in the PP last year and he had a pretty good time. In fact, since 2020, Stoinis averages 13.75 and has an ER of 6.88 with the ball in the PP. LSG can try and get through 1-2 overs of the 5th-6th bowler by bowing Stoinis in the PP.

They have also managed to snap up one of the best fast bowling all-rounders in the game currently in Jason Holder. He has been having consistently great seasons with the ball for SRH, and has developed into an all phases bowler. He is also a smart batter and can hit a long ball. Along with Krunal, the responsibility of finishing the innings will be on him.

IPL 2022 LSG Squad: Spinners Lucknow Super Giants

Spinners : Shahbaz Nadeem, Ravi Bishnoi

Ravi Bishnoi would have fetched a lot of money had he gone into the auction. LSG made one of the most impressive retention deals by picking him up at 4 Cr in the draft. His quality was there for everyone to see in IPL 2020, and it baffled one and all when he didn’t start for PBKS in 2021. That should not be a problem here, as he is their premier spinner and a lot of how LSG’s season pans out will depend on his performances. They have also got Shahbaz Nadeem as the backup spinner if and when required.

IPL 2022 LSG Squad: Quicks Lucknow Super Giants

Fast bowlers : Mark Wood, Avesh Khan, Ankit Rajpoot, Dushmantha Chameera, Mohsin Khan, Mayank Yadav

LSG have one of the most enviable fast bowling line ups in the tournament. In Jason Holder, they have a tall swing bowler who can bowl 2 if not 3 overs upfront. And while teams crave for that one pacer who can bowl upwards of 140kph, LSG have managed to snap up 3 of them in Mark Wood, Avesh Khan, and Dushmantha Chameera.

Avesh was the find of the season last year for DC, where he ended up as the 2nd highest wicket taker in the tournament. Like Holder, he can also be an all phases bowler as he showed last season, having an ER of 6.45 in the PP, 7.06 in the middle overs (to go with an average of 16.14), and an ER of 8.83 at the death.

Mark Wood and Dushmantha Chameera can be used as both middle overs enforcers (avg 40.33, ER 8.34 and avg 16.5, ER 7.28 since 2020 respectively), and as death bowlers (avg 19.40, ER 9.70 and avg 23.75, ER 8.59 since 2020 respectively) . Their hard lengths will be difficult to score against, especially for non-specialist, non-elite finishers.

For backup, LSG also have 3 Indian fast bowling options in Ankit Rajpoot – domestic and IPL veteran having played for 4 different franchises before this, Mayank Yadav – 19 year old right arm fast bowler from Delhi who has played 2 List A games and has picked 6 wickets, and Mohsin Khan – left arm pacer from UP who has been a part of the MI setup for several years and has a good T20 record (33 wickets in 26 innings at an average of 19.33 and an ER of 7.08).

Strengths

  • Elite first choice and backup openers
  • High quality pace bowling line up with variety
  • Two world class pace bowling all-rounders
  • Elite wrist spinner

Weaknesses

  • Two potential anchors in top 3
  • No backup middle order batters
  • No specialist finishers

Probable XIs

Option A

  • KL Rahul
  • Quinton de Kock
  • Manish Pandey
  • Deepak Hooda
  • Marcus Stoinis
  • Krunal Pandya
  • Jason Holder
  • Krishnappa Gowtham
  • Ravi Bishnoi
  • Mark Wood
  • Avesh Khan

Option B

  • Marcus Stoinis
  • Manan Vohra
  • Manish Pandey
  • KL Rahul
  • Deepak Hooda
  • Krunal Pandya
  • Jason Holder
  • Mark Wood
  • Ravi Bishnoi
  • Dushmantha Chameera
  • Avesh Khan

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