The weekend is finally here, and so is the much-awaited doubleheader in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023. The first game on Saturday features the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) taking on the Gujarat Titans (GT) at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium in Lucknow.
Should anyone ask, the Lucknow Super Giants are currently on cloud nine in the cash-rich league and second in the IPL 2023 points table. Looking at the bigger picture, they have done well in the tournament so far, winning four matches out of the six they played.
While there have been a few concerns, such as KL Rahul's below-par performances and the local batters' inability to make any significant impact with the bat, they have managed to gel together as a unit, primarily due to their excellent bowling and some batting fireworks from Nicholas Pooran and Marcus Stoinis.
Heading into this game, there is a possibility of seeing some changes, with one potential change being the replacement of Deepak Hooda with Manan Vohra. The Baroda batter has been struggling for form lately, scoring five consecutive single-digit scores and maintaining an average of less than seven in the tournament.
Another potential change we may see in this game is the return of their star pacer Mohsin Khan, who was their standout performer in the previous season of the tournament. The Uttar Pradesh pacer has reportedly fully recovered and is ready to play the remaining matches for the Super Giants.
As for the defending champions Gujarat Titans, they have put on a good show in the tournament, having won three out of the five matches played. Their two losses against Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals were tight, and they would be eager to bounce back and return to their winning ways when they take on the Super Giants.
In contrast to their rivals for this match, Gujarat Titans have no significant concerns with their team so far. Every player, from the top order to the middle order to the bowlers, has made excellent contributions to the team's success thus far, and they will be keen to carry that momentum forward into their upcoming match.
Probable Playing XI
Lucknow Super Giants:
KL Rahul (c), Kyle Mayers/Quinton de Kock, Deepak Hooda/Manan Vohra, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Krunal Pandya, Ayush Badoni, Ravi Bishnoi, Mark Wood/Naveen ul Haq, Avesh Khan, Yudhvir Singh Charak/Mohsin Khan.
Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Sai Sudharsan, Hardik Pandya (c), David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, R Sai Kishore, Joshua Little, Mohammed Shami, Alzarri Joseph.
The surface at Ekana Stadium is set to be slower, allowing spinners to dominate the game. Both teams boast experienced spin bowlers in Ravi Bishnoi, Amit Mishra, Rashid Khan, and R Sai Kishore, making it a 50-50 game. It could be a close contest, and the team winning the toss may prefer to bat first as the majority of matches have been won by the team batting first on this surface.
Pitch Stats [IPL 2023]
Average 1st innings total: 157
Average 2nd innings total: 143
Matches won by the team batting 1st: 1
Matches won by the team batting 2nd: 2
Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans have met twice before in the tournament's last season, with the Titans winning both matches. As the teams face each other again, the Super Giants will look to turn the tables and snap their winless record against the defending champions.
Rahul vs Shami - Runs: 13, Balls: 17, Outs: 2
Rahul vs Rashid - Runs: 18, Balls: 30, Outs: 3
Hooda vs Rashid - Runs: 28, Balls: 29, Outs: 3
Pooran vs Rashid - Runs: 26, Balls: 41, Outs: 2
Gill vs Avesh - Runs: 39, Balls: 37, Outs: 2
Hardik vs Avesh - Runs: 6, Balls: 13, Outs: 2
Miller vs Avesh - Runs: 50, Balls: 30, Outs: 2
Form Update ( Last 5 innings )
Top Fantasy Picks
The LSG captain has been struggling to score runs in the tournament, but he seems to have found his rhythm lately. He played a fantastic half-century knock against Punjab Kings and showed great composure while scoring 39 runs on a tricky wicket in Jaipur against Rajasthan Royals.
Although he has managed to accumulate 194 runs from six matches, his strike rate has been a source of worry for the team and himself. Now that he has become accustomed to the conditions at the Ekana stadium, we can expect him to craft another batting masterclass with the willow.
Mohammed Shami: When it comes to T20s, Shami is one of the best in the business with the new ball. His ability to swing the ball and hit the right line and lengths makes him a nightmare for any batter. As for the numbers, he has picked up 10 wickets in five matches at an economy rate of 8.35 and a strike rate of 16.
Rashid Khan: Given the favourable conditions for spin bowling at the Ekana Stadium, Rashid Khan is likely to be the go-to bowler for Gujarat Titans in this match. With 11 wickets in five matches at an economy rate of 8.20 and a strike rate of 12, he has been the Titans’ most successful bowler so far in the tournament.
Ravi Bishnoi: The young leg-spinner has been in great form in the tournament so far, picking up eight wickets in six matches at a brilliant economy rate of 6.98 and a strike rate of 19. His ability to bowl a mix of googlies, variations and accuracy makes him a difficult bowler to read, and he will once again play a key role in LSG’s bowling attack.