Did LSG Throw Away the Game with the Ball Against PBKS?
Sikandar Raza outclassed LSG with the bat at Ekana (AP Photo)
Several questions strike the mind about yesterday’s encounter between the Lucknow Super Giants and Punjab Kings in the IPL.
And whether the team bowling second take Punjab rather lightly is just one of them.
Most of the questions particularly concern the rather evidently frail efforts of Lucknow with the ball for where the word Super or giant were concerned; then they perfectly suited their opponents Punjab.
We know now who truly played like Kings. Perhaps KL Rahul, for all his valiance with the bat, knows it too.
But first up, here’s what was most interesting about the outcome of the twenty-first game of the IPL in 2023.
As a matter for fact, the game against Punjab was the first time that the Lucknow Super Giants failed to defend in a contest in their IPL journey in 2023; the first time that they failed to do so was back in 2022, when they arrived as the IPL first timers.
Whether it were the games against Chennai, Hyderabad or Bangalore, as seen previously, Lucknow excelled as chasers. They got the job done and weren’t found wanting.
But that they lost yesterday’s contest despite having Punjab down at 28 for the loss of 2 early wickets in 4 overs perhaps signalled that something was not quite right.
Now whether it was the massive hype surrounding him or his match winning capabilities abundantly evident, whether in the Caribbean Premier League or the PSL, it was not hard to note that the Lucknow Super Giants didn’t have their plans chalked out for Sikandar Raza.
So were there any plans to stop the Raza rampage as evident in the second half of Punjab’s run chase that allowed them to run away with the game?
A first fifty for the massively talented cricketer and an effort that sank KL Rahul’s side.
Yet, at the same time, we must cut some slack for no one had any clear idea about the famous Zimbabwean all rounder as the right hander is, fundamentally, still very new to the IPL, having made his T20 debut in India in the last edition.
Though what could surely have been avoided was bowling too short to add to Raza’s comfort and that too with the possibility of cleaning the ropes over the deep mid wicket area, the dangerous batter's favourite zone.
By doing so, did Krunal Pandya miss the trick? 2 consecutive sixes followed by a 4 came in his over.
Following his gritty 36 against the Gujarat Titans in his last game, Matthew Short with his 34 was in the mood for a whack. And a whack he did put on the white ball.
But much to their dejection, at a time where Lucknow could still have induced more pressure having removed the top order, the likes of Yudhvir and Gowtham bowled a touch too short to the tall Australian right hander.
This was just easy capitalisation on a kind of bowling that lacked any evident plans.
While he fell in the sixth over, Matthew Short with his long levers had opened the floodgates for big hitting.
Any opposition that truly applies pressure and doesn’t give away freebies should have ideally emerged on the right side of the result with its opponent needing 85 off the final 9 overs but with the top four gone.
Not Lucknow, though.
But what was most striking was the time period when someone like Ravi Bishnoi was introduced into the attack.
A genuine wicket taker. A cheery, uppity spinner who’s as hard to score off as he is difficult to pick. The big question that went begging was whether the time of Bishnoi’s introduction was spot on?
The leg spinner came into bowl for the first time ever in the fifteenth over. Not that he didn’t respond to the opportunity; Bishnoi removed the dangerous Sam Curran in his maiden over.
But by then another 44 were needed and it wasn’t impossible.
For all their majestic talents and incredible hitting, the thing that strikes about Lucknow the most is that they got to utilise their winning bowlers a tad bit better. And they cannot afford to leave a lot for the end, which was the case in the Punjab contest.
They’d love to draw the key lessons from a game that should ideally have been theirs in the bag and move on to better things in the IPL. A disappointed KL Rahul and a forlorn looking Gautam Gambhir are things that don’t look camera pretty.