The Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium in Lucknow is all set to witness history as Virat Kohli, the batting maverick, takes the field for the first time in the city, as Royal Challengers Bangalore square off against the Super Giants in the 43rd match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 on Monday, May 1st.
When these two teams met last time, it was a match to remember — from Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli and Glenn Maxwell’s explosive batting to Nicholas Pooran's match-winning performance and then Harshal Patel's controversial run-out attempt, it was a dramatic affair. In the end, the Super Giants emerged victorious by just one wicket.
There’s no denying that this season has been quite tumultuous for Royal Challengers Bangalore, having won only four out of eight matches played, and losing just as many. In their previous match against Kolkata Knight Riders, they suffered a gut-wrenching defeat of 21 runs, with many of their batters struggling against spinners.
To make matters worse, their struggle against spin is likely to continue in this match as well as the opposition boasts a strong contingent of quality spinners, and with the spin-friendly wicket at Ekana stadium, it remains to be seen how well their 'KGF' - Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, and Faf du Plessis - cope with this challenge.
Amid all the turmoil, there's a glimmer of hope for the visitors, Josh Hazlewood, who has been out of action for a while, may make his comeback in this match. Besides him, their star spinner, Wanindu Hasaranga, is expected to play a crucial role for them in this match, given the playing conditions in Lucknow.
Turning our attention to the hosts, they could be riding high on momentum, having secured a comprehensive win over the Punjab Kings in their previous outing. However, their home ground has not been kind to them lately, with two consecutive defeats to their name and it will be intriguing to see what plans they have for this game.
All things considered, the Super Giants are expected to retain the same playing XI for this match. However, there is a possibility of a change in the form of their star pacer Mohsin Khan, who has been sidelined for a while now. Nonetheless, there has been no official confirmation yet.
In spin department, Ravi Bishnoi and Amit Mishra are poised to play a significant role once again, while Krunal Pandya and Krishnappa Gowtham could prove to be a handful for the opposition's batting line-up. To sum up, an exciting T20 contest awaits us at Ekana on Monday evening.
Probable Playing XIs
Lucknow Super Giants:
KL Rahul (c), Kyle Mayers, Ayush Badoni, Marcus Stoinis/Daniel Sams, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Ravi Bishnoi, Mark Wood/Naveen ul Haq, Avesh Khan, Yash Thakur/Moshin Khan
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
Faf du Plessis (c), Virat Kohli, Shahbaz Ahmed, Mahipal Lomror, Glenn Maxwell, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Wanindu Hasaranga, Michael Bracewell/David Willey, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Vyshak Vijaykumar
The last four matches at Ekana Stadium Lucknow have suggested that the surface here is a competitive one, catering to both pacers and spinners. The fast bowlers, however, will need to temper their pace, as speed alone may not be enough to take wickets, while spinners will likely have a substantial impact in the middle overs.
A total between 150 to 170 runs can be considered competitive at this venue, and the team that wins the toss should consider batting first and defending the total in the second innings.
Pitch Stats [IPL 2023]
Average 1st inning score: 150
Average 2nd inning score: 137
Matches won by the team batting 1st: 2
Matches won by the team batting 2nd: 2
In their three face-offs so far, Royal Challengers Bangalore have emerged victorious twice, giving them an edge over the Super Giants in their head-to-head record. Lucknow, on the other hand, have won only once, which happened to be the game they played earlier in the ongoing season.
Faf du Plessis:
When it comes to consistent performances this season, Faf du Plessis has undoubtedly been the flag-bearer for Royal Challengers Bangalore. As the team's captain, he has been leading by example and is currently their highest run-scorer with 422 runs in eight matches at an average of 60.29 and a strike rate of 167.46.
The interim captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore has managed to make a valuable contribution to the team's campaign this season, having amassed 333 runs in eight appearances at an average of 47.57 and a strike rate of 142.31. As he gears up to play on the spin-friendly wicket of Ekana, it remains to be seen if he can overcome his shortcomings and deliver another match-winning knock.
The captain of Lucknow Super Giants has been facing criticism for his slow run-scoring this season. So far, he has garnered 274 runs in eight matches at a strike rate of around 114, which has raised questions about his approach in the shortest format of the game. As he prepares for the upcoming game, he will be eager to silence his critics by scoring runs at a brisk rate.
The young leg-spinner bounced back well against Punjab Kings in the last match after being hit around by the Gujarat Titans at their home ground. However, as a spinner, he must keep his pace in check to avoid giving the batters too much space to hit. In eight matches, he has taken 10 wickets, with an economy rate of around eight.
He has picked up six wickets in five outings at an economy rate of nine. In the last game against Kolkata Knight Riders, he was outstanding, taking two wickets and giving away only 24 runs in his four overs. It will be interesting to see how he takes advantage of the spin-friendly conditions in Lucknow.