Eleven matches. Eight wins. Three losses. The two IPL newbies – Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans – are only separated by net run-rate on top of the points table, and a win on Tuesday will propel one of them to 18 points and help cement their playoffs spot.
While Super Giants are coming off four wins on the trot, Titans suffered consecutive defeats against lowly-placed Mumbai Indians and Punjab Kings. Having lost the match against Mumbai by a small margin, there were a few positives for Hardik Pandya’s men, with Shubman Gill and the captain back among runs after failures in the recent games. A stable batter at No. 3 is still a concern for them, but thanks to match-winners like David Miller, Rahul Tewatia and Rashid Khan, Titans have managed to stay ahead in the playoffs race.
Having played many games where the results could have gone either way, a third loss in a row might start to affect Titans’ confidence and their aim of a top-two finish in the group stage. With Wriddhiman Saha providing them with quick starts, Titans will want to seek consistency from Gill and Hardik.
Super Giants, on the other hand, will be brimming with confidence after crushing Kolkata Knight Riders with an all-round performance in the previous game. The addition of Mohsin Khan has only strengthened their bowling attack that comprises the likes of Avesh Khan, Dushmantha Chameera and Jason Holder. In Ravi Bishnoi and Krunal Pandya, they have reliable wicket-taking spin options.
Their batting has primarily been taken care of by KL Rahul – who is also the leading run-getter for them with 451 runs at a strike rate of 145.01 – and Quinton de Kock at the top with Deepak Hooda now back to No.3 after they dropped a struggling Manish Pandey at one-down. A top-heavy batting has covered up for their underperforming middle order and this might be the one area that Titans would aim to exploit.
In the news
Avesh Khan will be back in the XI after missing a few games due to a “small injury”. Both teams are unlikely to change their playing XIs.
Lucknow Super Giants : 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 KL Rahul (capt), 3 Deepak Hooda, 4 Marcus Stoinis, 5 Krunal Pandya, 6 Ayush Badoni, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Avesh Khan/K Gowtham, 9 Mohsin Khan, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Ravi Bishnoi
Gujarat Titans : 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3 B Sai Sudharsan, 4 Hardik Pandya (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 Rahul Tewatia, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 Alzarri Joseph, 9 Lockie Ferguson, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Pradeep Sangwan
Mohammed Shami will be key to Titan’s bowling plans as he has dismissed Rahul twice in three T20s. The fast bowler has also removed Quinton de Kock three times with the batter averaging just 14 against him.
Stats that matter
Saha has an average of 51.7 against pacers this season.
Lockie Ferguson’s economy has jumped to 10 in the last six matches, after having conceded 7.7 runs an over in the first five matches.
Chameera is two short of completing 100 wickets in T20s.