Photo Courtesy: IANS

Kolkata, May 24: In search of their maiden title, the Faf du Plessis-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), who are full of super stars, will take on KL Rahul’s versatile Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) in the Eliminator of the IPL 2022 at the iconic Eden Gardens, here on Wednesday.

LSG, who are playing their first IPL season, finished third in the league stage with nine wins. On the other hand, RCB, with 16 points, got the fourth spot and qualified for the playoffs after Mumbai Indians defeated Delhi Capitals in their last league game.

The winner of the Eliminator will meet the losing side from Qualifier 1 in Qualifier 2 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Friday.

Over the years, RCB have a batting-dominating side, which eventually used to lead to an unbalanced playing XI. However, things have changed this year and the Bangalore-based franchise has one of the best bowling attacks in the league.

They spent a third of their purse to acquire the services of Wanindu Hasaranga, Harshal Patel and Josh Hazlewood, who sit on top of the wicket’s charts for RCB with 57 wickets among them at 18 apiece with a wicket every 14 balls.

However, RCB’s biggest worry has been the top-order batting. Virat Kohli has endured his worst IPL season in over a decade, while skipper Faf du Plessis has largely been inconsistent and has been a slow starter, striking at just 105 in powerplay. But in their last league game, both batting superstars did a great job with the bat and led RCB to victory. Especially, Virat finally seemed to find his form and RCB would need him to step up in the high-pressure knockout game.

Apart from du Plessis and Virat, Glenn Maxwell also has the calibre to single-handedly win the game for his side. So his attacking intent will be also key to RCB’s success. The likes of Rajat Patidar, Shahbaz Ahmed and Mahipal Lomror have also been handy with the bat.

Lower down the order, Dinesh Karthik has played his role of a pace hitter to near perfection. He has smashed 287 runs (SR 191) across the season, 213 of those runs coming in death overs at a rate of 215 runs per 100 balls with a boundary almost every third ball.

RCB have been the most stable side of the tournament this year, making the fewest changes to the playing XI. So, it will be interesting to see whether they will bring back Mohammed Siraj in place of Siddarth Kaul as Siraj’s pace would be more handy on fresher pitches in Kolkata and Ahmedabad.

On the other hand, Super Giants have been the most balanced outfit this season covering most bases with good depth across both bowling and batting department disciplines.

The LSG opening duo of KL Rahul (537 runs) and Quinton de Kock (502) are the most successful opening combination of the season. Individually they sit second and third in the run charts with over 1000 runs between them and their impact in Super Giants’ wins is so explicit that every time either or both of them have crossed 40, they have gone on to win.

However, when both Rahul and De Kock failed together it inevitably ended in a defeat for the Super Giants. Both openers have accounted for nearly 47 per cent of all the runs LSG have scored this season, and add Deepak Hooda’s tally to it –their only success at the crucial 3rd position –the figures surges to almost 65 per cent.

Despite Hooda’s (406 runs) success at three, he was pushed down in the run chase against Royals to deepen their batting, which shows Super Giants’ middle order troubles.

Between the four middle order batters — Marcus Stoinis, Krunal Pandya, Ayush Badoni and Jason Holder, they have crossed 50 just once — by Badoni in their opening fixture against Titans. Since then, the youngster has not crossed 20 and currently finds himself on the bench.

Holder has failed to provide the finishing touches while Krunal, the sole left-hander in their middle order, is the slowest scoring batter in the middle overs this season. Barring a couple of cameos, Stoinis has failed to leave his imprint thus far in the campaign.

However, the varied four-man pace attack of Avesh Khan, Mohsin Khan, Jason Holder, and Dushmanta Chameera gives LSG attack edge in all aspects — pace, bounce, swing, left-arm angle as well as variations. While the senior duo of Holder and Chameera have blown hot and blown cold a bit across the season, the youngsters Avesh and Mohsin have stepped up for them and present a massive challenge for any opposition batting lineup.

In their last league game against Kolkata Knight Riders, Super Giants left behind Chameera and opted for the spin of K. Gowtham and brought in Evin Lewis in place of Krunal Pandya to beef up their batting, leaving them a bowler short.

However, Krunal could slot back in for Manan Vohra but they will have to decide where they need the overseas depth more — in their batting or in their fast bowling department.

Overall, it will be a mouth-watering clash between the two solid sides and they would look to put their best foot forward and move closer to that coveted IPL 2022 trophy.

Squads:

Lucknow Super Giants: KL Rahul (c and wk), Quinton de Kock (wk), Manish Pandey, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Evin Lewis, Marcus Stoinis, Jason Holder, Andrew Tye, Kyle Mayers, Avesh Khan, Dushmantha Chameera, Ravi Bishnoi, Ayush Badoni, Manan Vohra, Krishnappa Gowtham, Shahbaz Nadeem, Ankit Rajpoot, Mayank Yadav, Mohsin Khan, Karan Sharma.

Royal Challengers Bangalore : Faf du Plessis (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Harshal Patel, Wanindu Hasaranga, Mohammed Siraj, Shahbaz Ahmed, Sherfane Rutherford, David Willey, Finn Allen (wk), Anuj Rawat (wk), Josh Hazlewood, Jason Behrendorff, Siddharth Kaul, Karn Sharma, Akash Deep, Mahipal Lomror, Chama V Milind, Rajat Patidar, Aneeshwar Gautam, Suyash Prabhudessai.

Source: IANS