Kolkata, May 25 (IANS): With IPL newbies Gujarat Titans sealing their ticket to the IPL 2022 final, on Wednesday at the Eden Gardens will see fellow debutants Lucknow Super Giants trying to inch closer to reaching the title clash when they will square off against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Eliminator.
Going into the contest, there's plenty of focus on Lucknow captain KL Rahul, who has been in fine form while amassing 537 runs on the back of two centuries, three half-centuries and averaging 48.82. But all of Rahul's centuries and fifties this season have all been registered during the first innings.
Former India cricketer Mohammed Kaif pointed out that If Lucknow wish to play Qualifier 2 on Friday in Ahmedabad, then a lot of it will depend on Rahul's form in the Eliminator. "So, if we talk about today's match, LSG reached this stage after a rollercoaster ride. They are playing in the IPL for the first time. KL has brought the team to the Playoffs and he has been great with his captaincy and batting."
"The real test of his form will be today, because you don't want to do any mistakes in today's match. He should not take much pressure and allow De Kock to hit shots for himself. He should use the, 'Watch the ball and hit the ball' strategy," said Kaif on 'Game Plan' show on Star Sports.
Kaif feels that thriving in the second innings will be a test for the opening batter, due to which he takes a lot of pressure on himself. "According to me, KL Rahul wants to play a captaincy innings and he takes a lot of pressure on himself. Since you are in form, you should try to bat while chasing in the same way when you bat first."
"(Quinton) de Kock is playing with you and his job is to be aggressive, but yours is to play till the last overs. He looks under pressure while chasing, and also got dismissed many times, but he's a class batsman. He has form, runs, temperament and knows to play till the end. He hits shots in every direction. He takes time in the beginning but knows how to finish a game."
Lucknow have been a team packed with various varieties of all-rounders, giving the think-tank a problem of plenty apart from providing the side with great depth in batting and bowling departments. For Kaif, Lucknow's bowling unit looks stronger than Bangalore's.
"Basically, Lucknow's bowling is better and RCB's is quite weak. Mohammed Siraj dropped in the previous match and Siddarth Kaul came in place of him and ended up giving 40 runs in 4 overs, which is quite expensive. On the Eden Gardens pitch, apart from Hazlewood, RCB's bowling is quite weak. The bowling of Lucknow is better, so RCB must perform better with their batting, should hit more sixes then only, will be able to win today's match. It is a great battle!"
Kaif signed off by saying that Lucknow are favourites for him to defeat Bangalore in the eliminator.
"Lucknow have an edge in their batting. KL Rahul and De Kock are in form and they also have a great bowling unit. So, RCB will have to work hard. If they hit more sixes, then they will win today's match. Maxwell's small innings will have to be turned into big ones and Virat Kohli will have to continue his form. If you ask from me, Lucknow is leading this battle with a 60-40 chance."