Sixth-place LSG rue season of missed chances | Crickit
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Sixth-place LSG rue season of missed chances

May 18, 2024 10:05 PM IST

Having lost in playoffs in both the previous seasons, the KL Rahul-led side lost their plot in the last few matches

A lot of chopping and changing is expected in the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) ranks when the mega auction for the next Indian Premier League (IPL) takes place in January 2025, especially after a sixth place finish this season which also witnessed a controversy when skipper KL Rahul was allegedly “scolded” by the franchise owner after the team’s 10-wicket mauling by Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Lucknow Super Giants' wicketkeeper and captain KL Rahul (R) speaks with Nicholas Pooran (AFP)
Lucknow Super Giants' wicketkeeper and captain KL Rahul (R) speaks with Nicholas Pooran (AFP)

“For sure, there will be some serious changes at the mega auction. Right now, we are reviewing the team’s overall show this season as well the impact of other incidents,” said an LSG insider on condition of anonymity after the team’s 18-run win over five-time champions Mumbai Indians on Friday night.

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He, however, said that the KL Rahul incident could have been avoided. “Such things happen and it’s a natural outburst of the people concerned. After all, they are spending big money on you, and they have the right to question the team leader about the team’s show. The discussion could have been held behind the curtains like other teams do."

“It happens all the time. I know one of the team owners smashed chairs and tables in his VVIP room after his team lost a crucial match last season, but that wasn’t in public,” he added.

It was a disappointing end to LSG’s journey this season despite having a solid run till the mid-season. Having lost in playoffs in both the previous seasons, LSG lost their plot in the last few matches this time as their bowling and batting couldn’t pose a problem to their rivals. A below-par show by all-rounder Krunal Pandya (133 runs, 6 wickets in 14 matches) was a problem for the side. Deepak Hooda (145 runs), too, failed to impress.

Quinton de Kock’s 250 runs in 11 matches at an average of 22.72 could not give LSG the desired starts even though fellow opener and captain KL finished as the top run-getter for the side with 520 runs at an average of 37.14. Both overseas players -- Nicholas Pooran and Marcus Stoinis -- made their presence felt in style.

West Indies’ Pooran smashed 499 runs at a strike rate of 178.21 while Australian Stoinis made 388 runs and took four wickets. The power hitting of both Pooran and Stoinis was laudable. Pooran’s match-winning 75, which came off just 29 balls with the help of five boundaries and eight sixes against Mumbai Indians, remained his best this season. For sure, Stoinis’ unbeaten 124 against five-time champions Chennai Super Kings in Lucknow will always be remembered.

Young Ayush Badoni once again showed his consistency lower down the order, scoring 235 runs with two half centuries. But the failure of Devdutt Padikkal, who could score just 38 runs in seven matches at an average of 5.42, jolted LSG’s middle-order, whereas Arshad Khan showed a lot of promise with the willow, hitting an unbeaten half-century in a four-match stint this season.

The biggest setback to LSG was the injury to young tearaway Mayank Yadav, who could bowl only 73 deliveries in four matches and took seven wickets. He won back-to-back player of the match awards and helped the side win both their home matches with sheer pace. Thereafter, he appeared against Gujarat Titans and Mumbai Indians for a while before being ruled out for the entire season.

Afghanistan pacer Naveen-ul-Haq was the pick of LSG bowlers bagging 14 wickets. Yash Thakur (11 wkts), Ravi Bishnoi (10 wkts) and Mohsin Khan (10 wkts) tried their best to live up to expectations. Nevertheless, a 10-wicket loss to SRH in a crucial game was enough to expose the bowling woes of LSG.

"At the beginning of the season, I really felt that we had a strong team and had most bases covered," KL Rahul said after the game on Friday. "We had a couple of injuries obviously, which happens every season to every team, but those injuries and the guys that went away really dented us a little bit, and we didn't play well enough collectively.”

"When the bowlers had a good game, the batters wouldn't have a good game. We just didn't come together as much as we would have wanted to,” he added.

Chief coach Justin Langer acknowledged that they missed the services of Mayank and Mohsin, but felt that their sloppy fielding “really killed us in the end.”

"I think dropped catches cost us,” Langer said at the post-match press conference.

"If you go back to the Delhi game at home, we dropped Jake Fraser-McGurk on 17 off Marcus Stoinis. And I think he hit 26 runs off the next over and it really kickstarted his whole season. I saw a stat today that we've dropped a lot of catches. We've probably got the best fielding coach in the world in Jonty Rhodes and we dropped catches. And often it's something as simple as that to decide the outcome of the season.”

"We missed Mayank, he was huge. Mohsin had quite a sore back for some of the tournament. But I think dropped catches is the thing that really killed us in the end,” he added.

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