Mohsin Khan of Lucknow Super Giants celebrates a wicket against Delhi Capitals. (BCCI)
Lucknow Super Giants are one win away from confirming a place in the playoffs. While this would seem easy for a team that have been the most consistent along with Gujarat Titans, the T20 format can be terribly unpredictable and often cruel and who knows this better than LSG mentor Gautam Gambhir.
The former India opener who spent a decade in the league and twice led Kolkata Knight Riders to the title took the Lucknow team to task after their 62-run defeat to the Titans a few days back.
After restricting the opponents to a very modest 144, LSG were clear favourites to become the first team to reach the playoffs but succumbed to a paltry 82 in a horrid batting display that smacked of lack of focus and commitment.
Gambhir didn’t mince words in letting the LSG players know what he thought of their tepid approach. In a video that went viral of a team meeting after the match, a livid Gambhir, barely able to conceal his disappointment, is seen admonishing the group for surrendering without a fight.
That defeat kept LSG in second place with 14 points, but six other teams behind them are also in the race for the remaining three places in the playoffs.
If they lose both their remaining matches, they could become a victim of Net Run Rate which has been mercurial all season.
As mentioned, a victory tonight would settle the issue to LSG’s advantage, but this won’t come on a platter against Rajasthan Royals who possess as much all-round depth and have as much flair as the teams above them, Titans and LSG.
Where the Royals have lagged a bit is in consistency, A couple of their defeats were unexpected, much as LSG’s in the previous match. But Gambhir and, captain KL Rahul and coaches, know the perils of underestimating Sanju Samson’s team even if they come into tonight’s clash on the back of a loss.
Among the four defeats LSG have suffered this season, one came against the Royals by a paltry three runs.
While LSG have been consistently good, the Royals have been somewhat mercurial, but often touching dazzling heights in batting and bowling.
Jos Buttler is still the tournament’s highest run-getter and there is no more destructive batsman than him in this format. Samson is only a little behind. Yashasvi Jaiswal's striking form last week has been a bonus.
The Royals' bowling is also as formidable as the Giants'.
On paper, there’s not much to choose between the two teams. The toss could play a big part, but even more important will be how the two teams have regrouped after defeats in their respective previous matches.
This is what Gambhir was stressing in the team meeting after the defeat to the Titans.
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