In impressive form throughout the season, Lucknow Super Giants would be looking to bounce back from their defeat in the previous game and register a victory to confirm their place in the IPL play-offs when they face Rajasthan Royals on Sunday.
LSG topped the IPL points table with four trotting wins before relinquishing that position after losing to Gujarat Titans in their previous game.
The team led by KL Rahul, who are now in second place with 16 points, would not want to lose another game just before the start of the Round of 16. The Royals would also be looking to make amends for their complete failure in their comprehensive eight-wicket defeat to the Delhi Capitals in their last game.
With 16 points in 12 matches, a victory for LSG on Sunday will confirm its place in the play-offs. For the Royals too, a victory will bring them close to securing a place in the final four stages. Captain Rahul and his opening partner Quinton de Kock will again have to score the bulk of the points for LSG. Both fell cheap against the Titans and they would look to bounce back against the Royals.
Rahul, the tournament’s second most prolific hitter with 459 runs in 12 games, has been in impressive form with two centuries and as many half-centuries. De Kock scored three half centuries to rack up 355 points in 12 outings.
Deepak Hooda is another in-form hitter with 347 runs and three halfs, and he has the ability to make a difference. The Royals will rely heavily on England wicket-keeper batsman Jos Buttler, who scored 625 runs in 12 appearances with the help of three centuries and as many half-centuries. His teammates, however, were not at their best.
Captain Sanju Samson again failed to reach his full potential, although he didn’t do badly either. He scored 327 runs from 12 matches with two half-centuries. The good news for the Royals is that Devdutt Padikkal (295 points in 12 games) has shown some consistency with 31 and 48 in the last two matches, although he hasn’t made a big one yet.
The same goes for Shimron Hetmyer (291 in 11 matches), who has shown plenty of promise but has yet to shoot, although his 31 from 16 balls was instrumental in the six-wicket victory for the Royals versus Punjab Kings. Ravichandran Ashwin was the top scorer for the Royals in their previous game against the Delhi Capitals and his utility as a striker can be exploited by the Royals.
The Royals will again depend on spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who is top wicket-taker with 23 scalps in 12 matches, to face Rahul and de Kock, although R Ashwin, Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna are looking to participate. For LSG, bowling is the weakest department and the likes of Avesh Khan and Jason Holder will have to step in to restrain Buttler and the other RR hitters.
The two were among the wickets against the Titans while Mohsin Khan was thrifty with figures of 1/18 in four overs.
Lucknow Super Giants: KL Rahul (c), Manan Vohra, Evin Lewis, Manish Pandey, Quinton De Kock, Ravi Bishnoi, Dushmantha Chameera, Mohsin Khan, Mayank Yadav, Ankit Rajpoot, Avesh Khan, Andrew Tye, Marcus Stoinis, Kyle Mayers, Karan Sharma, Krishnappa Gowtham, Ayush Badoni, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya. Jason Holder.
Rajasthani Royals: Sanju Samson (c), Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Shimron Hetmyer, Devdutt Padikkal, Prasidh Krishna, Yuzvendra Chahal, Riyan Parag, KC Cariappa, Navdeep Saini, Obed McCoy, Anunay Singh, Kuldeep Sen, Karun Nair , Dhruv Jurel, Tejas Baroka, Kuldip Yadav, Shubham Garhwal, James Neesham, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rassie van der Dussen, Daryl Mitchell.
Start of the game at 7:30 p.m.