LUCKNOW SUPER GIANTS
Strengths: A productive and destructive opening pair in KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock. Together they have scored 1039 runs and have made the Powerplay overs count with rapid stands. A varied pace attack of Avesh Khan, Mohsin Khan, Dushmanta Chameera and Jason Holder always allows them to attack.
Weaknesses: An untested middle order. Most of the run-scoring has been done by Rahul (3×50, 2×100), de Kock (3×50, 1×100) and Deepak Hooda (4×50). Between them they have 10 of the 12 fifties scored by the franchise. Evin Lewis and Ayush Badoni have scored the other two.
Opportunities: For LSG to make better use of Marcus Stoinis. The square-shouldered Victorian hulk has faced only 97 balls in 9 innings, hitting seven fours and 12 sixes. Seven times he has batted after the 14th over. 17 balls vs Royals is the most deliveries he has faced in an innings.
Threats: They are a bat-first team and in a tricky chase, if Rahul, or de Kock or both fall early, the batting could implode. A closer look at the games LSG have lost will tell you that when both fail, they have lost the match. Time for Holder, Krunal and Gowtham to contribute more.
KL Rahul: When he and de Kock have scored 40-plus in an innings together, all those games have been won by LSG. A calm leader on the field who doesn’t look rushed under pressure.
Deepak Hooda: That LSG moved him down the order to lengthen the batting order, proves how crucial he is to the team. His 406 runs have come at a SR of 133.65.
Avesh Khan: 17 wickets, 116 dots, the ability to swing the new ball and bowl inswinging yorkers with the old ball has made him a go-to man for Rahul.
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE
Strengths: Feels strange to mention bowling as RCB’s strength as historically it has been the weaker wing of the three-time finalists. But with Wanindu Hasaranga, Josh Hazlewood and Harshal Patel in their ranks, they have managed to make timely strikes.
Weaknesses: Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli opening the batting make it a very traditional opening pair in Powerplays. It has meant that Glenn Maxwell, Shahbaz Ahmed, Dinesh Karthik and Rajat Patidar have had to do too much of the heavy lifting when it comes to raising the tempo of the innings.
Opportunities: For Kohli to look at what he did in the last innings against Gujarat and do a copy paste and bat with intent. The Eden is a venue where he got his last IPL ton. What better time for an encore?
Threats: Mohammed Siraj’s form. He has picked just eight wickets and has gone for 9. 82 runs in the 13 matches he has played. Also, history: this is the stage (Eliminator) RCB have chosen to have an off-day in the last two IPLs.
Wanindu Hasaranga: The Sri Lankan magician has bowled arresting spells, especially in the middle overs, and has been rewarded with 24 scalps, 17 of them between overs six and 15.
Dinesh Karthik: It may seem blasphemous to RCB fans, but Dinesh Karthik has been a perfect replacement for the great AB de Villiers. Manufacturing impossible shots, he has scored 287 runs in 150 balls across 14 games. 22 fours and 21 sixes in the tourney means he has hit a boundary every 3. 48 balls. Surreal.
Harshal Patel: His slow looping yorkers have been impossible to pick and hit. Last year’s purple cap winner has picked 18 wickets at a superb economy of 7. 68. Half of these wickets have come in the middle overs. Massive asset.