Knockout cricket begins in the Indian Premier League on Wednesday when the IPL 2023 season will end for one of the Lucknow Super Giants or the Mumbai Indians when those two teams meet each other in Chennai.
The winner will progress to Qualifier 2 in Ahmedabad on Friday and play for a place in the final while the loser will be done for the season and will be watching on when the campaign comes to a close over the weekend.
Lucknow Super Giants
The Lucknow Super Giants had a bit of an up and down campaign but they were good enough to finish third in the competition despite a pretty obvious handicap in that their home ground was not suited to the players they had available to them at all. You kind of wonder if now when the going is about to get really tough whether they will really begin to feel the absence of the experience and calm presence of KL Rahul.
The positive for Lucknow is that despite the conditions they have a bowling unit which can get the job done but you do wonder if their batters will get the runs required if there is something in the pitch. The ball doesn’t always come onto the bat in Chennai and when that has been the case the Lucknow batters have struggled. That said, their overseas stars are delivering the goods and if one of them comes off they could easily have too much.
Technically knockout cricket doesn’t begin until this match in this tournament but the Mumbai Indians have already played one do or die match. They had to beat the Sunrisers Hyderabad in their final regular season outing to give themselves a chance of making it into fourth spot and having done that they then saw Bangalore lose their final contest to ensure that it is Mumbai who heads to Chennai for this all or nothing encounter.
Mumbai have come alive in the second part of the season but in the main it has been their batters that have got them over the line. It will be interesting to see if their bowlers have anything with them or whether they are going to have to rely on their batting if they are to make it through. I just wonder if that confidence of having won a must-win game when they had a daunting chase to overcome will be the beneficial thing it feels here.
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Nicholas Pooran was in belligerent form with the bat in the previous game and if he gets a few clean strikes away towards the end of this one he could really strengthen the position that Lucknow Super Giants are in.
Rohit Sharma looked like he found some timing in the do or die clash with the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday and with Lucknow not necessarily the strongest in the opening couple of overs with the ball he could get in and get going again.
I always fear for the Lucknow Super Giants when they are playing on a pitch where the ball doesn’t come naturally onto the bat. I expect a fairly high scoring match here purely because I don’t really think either bowling attack is at full strength or delivering on the promise that they have shown in previous seasons but we are likely to be on the same pitch as the Qualifier 1 game on Tuesday and that might just play into the Mumbai Indians hands.
They too have some players who are better than the ball comes onto the bat but they have a core of Indian batters who can prosper when there is a need to pick the gaps and play the trickier balls. They also have the more experienced spinner of the two teams and that might be significant. Lucknow have had a wonderful season but unless one of the overseas batters gets in and has a blitz which usually only comes on truer wickets, I think the Mumbai Indians progress here.
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