KL Rahul’s injury big concern for LSG as they get ready for CSK challenge

Lucknow: Hit by injuries to skipper KL Rahul and seamer Jaydev Unadkat, Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) would be wary of Chennai Super Kings’ ability to bounce back when the two sides face each other in an Indian Premier League match here on Wednesday.

LSG would also be facing the heat after failing to chase down a meagre total of 126 in their own den, getting bundled out for just 108 in 19.5 overs by Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday.

Rahul sustained injury on his right thigh during the match against RCB here on Monday, while Unadkat slipped badly while bowling at the nets, resulting to a nasty fall on Sunday.

The extent of both the injuries is yet to be ascertained but Rahul came out to bat at No. 11 in LSG’s unsuccessful run chase, facing three balls without opening account. His inclusion in the LSG team for Wednesday’s match is doubtful.

Players like Kyle Mayers, Nicholas Pooran, Marcus Stoinis and Krunal Pandya have chipped in individually as well as collectively in previous games to keep the Lucknow franchise afloat while skipper Rahul has not been at his best after the two half centuries (74 against Punjab Kings and 68 against Gujarat Titans).

LSG’s performance this season has swung wildly. While on the one hand, they have given commanding performances that have become the envy of other sides, they also have a self-destruction button hidden somewhere, which goes off automatically.

Their match against Punjab Kings on April 28 was a reminder what the team can achieve collectively, while their game against RCB on Monday was an example of how calamitously a team could lose while chasing a miniscule total of 126.

The 257 for five against Punjab Kings, resulting to a 56-run win, had class and composure written all over it, with Mayers, Badoni, Stoinis, Pooran, Naveen-ul-Haq and Yash Thakur all chipping in, while they failed collectively against RCB.

Their weakness of succumbing to pressure, especially when their skipper Rahul might not be able to play on Wednesday due to a likely pulled hip flexor muscle, could give the MS Dhoni-led CSK enough confidence to go all out on the offensive.

LSG may be placed third on the IPL standings with 10 points from nine games but the shattering blow to their morale following the 18-run loss to RCB could be exploited by CSK, who too are on 10 points from nine matches but placed fourth due to an inferior net run rate (NRR).

Though CSK are coming off consecutive losses to Rajasthan Royals and Punjab Kings, their ability to bounce back can never be underestimated.

With the tactical acumen of Dhoni playing a vital role in most of their victories this season, the former India captain could exploit the situation, especially if Rahul does not play on Wednesday.

CSK will once again lean heavily on their New Zealand opener Devon Conway, who has been in the form of his life, scoring 414 runs from nine matches at an average of 59.14 and strike rate of 144.25.

It was bad luck that CSK lost to Punjab despite Conway smashing an unbeaten 92 at Chepauk to guide his team to 200 for four, only to see the total being overhauled off the last ball.

Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ravindra Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane are players with big-match temperament and can fire on any given day, while the Sri Lankan duo of Maheesh Theekshana and Matheesha Pathirana have been potent weapons in CSK’s bowling arsenal, not to forget Moeen Ali and Jadeja.

Much will depend on who leads LSG on the field on Wednesday. RCB felt the absence of Rahul for a major part of the game against RCB on Monday, and CSK can also exploit the same situation if he sits out on Wednesday.

The Teams (From):

Lucknow Super Giants: KL Rahul (c), Avesh Khan, Ayush Badoni, Quinton de Kock, Krishnappa Gowtham, Arpit Guleria, Deepak Hooda, Prerak Mankad, Kyle Mayers, Amit Mishra, Mohsin Khan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Krunal Pandya, Nicholas Pooran, Ravi Bishnoi, Daniel Sams, Karan Sharma, Romario Shepherd, Marcus Stoinis, Swapnil Singh, Jaydev Unadkat, Manan Vohra, Mark Wood, Yash Thakur, Yudhvir Singh.

Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (c/wk), Akash Singh, Moeen Ali, Bhagath Varma, Deepak Chahar, Devon Conway, Tushar Deshpande, Shivam Dube, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Ravindra Jadeja, Sisanda Magala, Ajay Mandal, Matheesha Pathirana, Dwaine Pretorius, Ajinkya Rahane, Shaik Rasheed, Ambati Rayudu, Mitchell Santner, Subhranshu Senapati, Simarjeet Singh, Nishant Sindhu, Prashant Solanki, Ben Stokes, Maheesh Theekshana.

Match Starts at 3:30pm IST.