The new Indian Premier League season continues on Monday when the latest two franchises to enter the competition make their debut in the tournament as the Gujarat Titans take on the Lucknow Super Giants at the Wankhede Stadium.
Both these teams accumulated impressive squads at the auction earlier in the year and now is the time for those sets of personnel to show that they have what it takes to fire their respective team to be challengers in the competition.
The Gujarat Titans secured the gun signing of Rashid Khan in the auction. He has a brilliant record in this competition from his days with the Sunrisers Hyderabad and now he will be looking to replicate that for his new team. He has been assigned the vice-captain role as an assistant to Hardik Pandya who was picked up from the Mumbai Indians. Those two are exciting cricketers, especially if the latter is going to bowl throughout this tournament.
They will need those two to stand up and be counted in this season though because the depth in their squad looks to have taken a hit given the money they had to use up to recruit that pairing. The withdrawal of Jason Roy certainly isn’t helpful and has meant a rejig to their plans and while Matthew Wade is adept at batting at the top of the innings it is never good when plans have to go out of the window before a ball is bowled. In the seam department there looks to be a real reliance on Lockie Ferguson.
Lucknow Super Giants
I thought heading into the tournament that the Lucknow Super Giants looked the more rounded side of the two new teams. One of the reasons for that is because KL Rahul is not arguably the best batter in the competition but also because he has a wealth of captaincy experience, particularly in this event, and that could be extremely useful. Another thing that will come in handy here is that his likely opening partner Quinton de Kock played on this ground for the Mumbai Indians for quite a few years.
Where I like the Super Giants though is with the ball. They have a couple of the brighter Indian talents in Avesh Khan and Ravi Bishnoi and with Andrew Tye having replaced Mark Wood they should go well with the ball. They also have a good blend of Indian middle order players which is where the Titans lack a bit of depth. The positive for the Super Giants is if they do get off to a good start they are only going to get stronger later in the competition when Marcus Stoinis, Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder arrive from international duty.
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There is rarely a T20 match where Rashid Khan isn’t a key player for the team he represents but when you consider he has got KL Rahul out three times in the 43 balls he has bowled at him he really is a key man for the Gujarat Titans here.
On the flip side of that if KL Rahul can get the Lucknow Super Giants off to a flyer there is a good depth of batting in this side who can take advantage and ease the pressure on their bowlers. He will be expected to score big this season.
We saw across the two matches on Sunday why I won’t be betting on the match winner before we know which way the toss goes too often but I will make an exception here because in my eyes the Lucknow Super Giants look a much stronger side to me than the Gujarat Titans. That still doesn’t mean I want the Super Giants to bat first but I do think the gulf is sufficient enough that they can cover it if they do have to bat first and look to overcome the dew factor.
At least this match is a night match so the dew will come fairly early in the first innings lessening out the advantage a little bit. I think there is more quality in the Lucknow batting unit and when you put the two bowling attacks alongside each other I don’t think the Super Giants are that far behind, if they are behind at all. There looks to be more depth and options to the Lucknow squad as well so all things being equal I think the prices are wrong here and I’ll take them to win at odds against.
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