Former Australia skipper Aaron Finch has reckoned that the opening pair of captain K.L Rahul and wicketkeeper-batter Quinton de Kock are the biggest strengths of Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) in the run-up to 2023 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
In their maiden IPL season last year, LSG had finished third in the league stage with nine wins and five defeats and had crashed out of the tournament after losing to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the eliminator at Kolkata.
This upcoming season, de Kock will miss LSG’s first two matches against Delhi Capitals (DC) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on April 1 and 3 respectively as South Africa will be engaged in an ODI series against the Netherlands.
“The big strength of the Lucknow Super Giants is their opening combination, K.L Rahul and Quinton de Kock. They complement each other so well. They are very different players, and their strengths and weaknesses offset each other. So, I think if they are going to have a big season,” Finch said on the ‘Know Your Team’ show on Star Sports.
“I think the home ground advantage for the Lucknow Super Giants this year, although their wicket has been a little unpredictable at times, they’ve got a class opening combination in KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock, their middle order power of Stoinis, Nicholas Pooran, and they’ve got a lot of bowling options, Krunal Pandya with the ball, who can also be versatile with the bat. So, I think they have got a lot of options to be able to exploit whatever the wicket produces,” added Finch, who led Australia to the 2021 Men’s T20 World Cup title.
He also felt that West Indies’ left-handed batter Nicholas Pooran will be a game-changer for the side in the tournament while calling Deepak Hooda an x-factor player.
Notably, Pooran was picked by LSG for a whopping Rs 16 crore in the mini-auction.
“They’ve spent a lot of money to get him in the auction. He wasn’t at his best last season, but we know how destructive he can be. He’s someone who strikes it at such a high strike rate, particularly early in his innings. So, for me, he is the player to watch out for.”
“The X-factor for me this season for Lucknow I see being Deepak Hooda. He’s someone who has taken the responsibility of batting at number 3. He’s someone who strikes at a good strike rate, particularly in the first 10 balls. He continues to keep being aggressive. If he can bat for longer periods while being aggressive, that will set up that middle and lower order to be at their destructive best,” he added.
Asked about the weakness in the team, Finch pointed towards their death-bowling options. “I see a potential weakness in the Lucknow Super Giants, being their death bowling. I think they’ve got a lot of options throughout the middle, they’ve got some good all-rounders. But I think, when you look at the combinations, finding good quality four overs of death bowling will be a real challenge for them.”
While terming de Kock, Marcus Stoinis, Nicholas Pooran, and Mark Wood as his overseas picks in Lucknow’s playing eleven, Finch signed off by saying that Lucknow may make the finals.
“My season performance prediction, for the Lucknow Super Giants is they will finish around fifth. Could sneak into the finals, I’m just a little worried about their death bowling under pressure. But all in all, they are a very dangerous side with a lot of match-winners throughout.”