After retaining KL Rahul, Marcus Stoinis and Ravi Bishnoi, the Lucknow Super Giants prioritised building a strong playing XI, exhausting almost their entire purse in the process. However, there are some glaring holes in this squad that can cripple their charge at the first time of asking.
As far as debuts go, the Lucknow Super Giants had a strong showing in what was undoubtedly the first step towards a challenging journey for this new franchise. After the inside knowledge they gained as owners of the Rising Pune Supergiant during IPL seasons 2016 and 2017, it was expected that the Sanjiv Goenka-led management group would do their homework and have their plans in place.
Lucknow were one of the first teams to wrap up their business on the auction table, with Gautam Gambhir and Co. having exhausted their full purse halfway through the second evening as others scrambled for players left, right and centre. As far as planning goes, it looked like the Super Giants’ Plan A had worked to perfection.
The Super Giants have Gambhir—a two-time IPL winning captain—as a mentor and Andy Flower as the head coach. Although their presence at the auction table was calm, rest assured: the pair would have played an active role in charting the auction strategy.
Lucknow went big for the young Indian fast bowler Avesh Khan, forking out a ₹10-crore paycheck. They went all the way for the West Indian all-rounder Jason Holder at ₹8.75 crore and carried on spending big on all-rounders, with both Deepak Hooda (₹5.75 crore) and Krunal Pandya (₹8.75 crore) set to reunite following their fight in 2018 while representing Baroda in the Ranji Trophy. English paceman Mark Wood cost them ₹7.50 crore, while Quinton de Kock at ₹6.75 crore gives them one of the best opening pairs—alongside KL Rahul—on paper. However, at the end of Day 1, they only bought 11 players and had just ₹6.90 crore remaining with 14 more slots in their squad to fill.
Like most of the other teams, Lucknow prioritised building a strong playing XI. With KL Rahul, Marcus Stoinis and Ravi Bishnoi forming the backbone, it was a matter of putting together the right set of players around them with suitable backups for certain slots. In the end, what they have ended up with is a strong, well-rounded playing XI with several multi-dimensional players, albeit a squad with a few obvious flaws.
So without further ado, let’s dive into it and take a look at the SWOT analysis of the Lucknow Super Giants for IPL 2022.
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Lucknow Super Giants Squad
Total squad strength: 21
|Batters and |
KL Rahul (c)
Quinton de Kock (wk)
Probable XI: KL Rahul (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Manish Pandey, Marcus Stoinis, Deepak Hooda, Jason Holder, Krunal Pandya, K Gowtham, Ravi Bishnoi, Mark Wood, Avesh Khan.
The Super Giants have a playing XI that, on paper, has the capability of challenging for the title in the first attempt. They have KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock as their opening pairing, and if KL were to leave the baggage of last season behind him, we can be assured of consistent 50–60 runs’ worth of elegant power-hitting from the duo, giving the aggressors below them the right foundation to build on from there.
Below Rahul and de Kock, Lucknow have Manish Pandey, Marcus Stoinis, Deepak Hooda and Jason Holder, all of whom can be shuffled around as per requirement. If Quinton and Rahul are able to provide consistent starts of 80–90 runs, Lucknow can push the likes of Stoinis or Hooda ahead of Pandey to keep their foot firmly on the pedal. Besides, each one of Stoinis, Hooda, Holder and Pandya is a multi-dimensional asset that offers variation on both fronts — with bat and ball.
The Super Giants have one of the most exciting young leg spinners in Ravi Bishnoi. To support him, Lucknow have the luxury of using the experienced Krunal Pandya, while Deepak Hooda can also offer some useful overs of off-spin bowling. Moreover, with the number of fast bowling options at their disposal, Lucknow can bring in another spinner to give Bishnoi further support: they have Krishnappa Gowtham and Shahbaz Nadeem, with the former looking the likelier pick at this point given Nadeem’s poor run of form in the IPL over the last few seasons.
Finally, Lucknow’s fast-bowling attack: to lead the line, they have Avesh Khan and Mark Wood. Lethal pace can sometimes prove to be a double-edged sword in T20 cricket, with Avesh capable of clocking 140–145 km/h consistently and Wood capable of bowling in excess of 150 km/h. However, the bouncy wickets in Maharashtra should be able to provide them with enough assistance. Apart from those two, Lucknow also have Marcus Stoinis and Jason Holder, both of whom are capable of bowling at the death and even upfront during the Powerplay overs.
In hindsight, the Super Giants invested too much in getting their top order together. They have as many as four capped players and one uncapped player fighting for those places. Among them, KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock are guaranteed at the top, while Manish Pandey can come in as the No. 3 to play the anchor role and set a solid foundation. However, that leaves the West Indian Evin Lewis and former Punjab Kings opener Manan Vohra on the bench as backup options. Although it still looks good on paper, this is one of the few instances where I feel Lucknow failed to execute their plans.
Evin Lewis, who is one of the most explosive T20 openers in world cricket at the moment—Averaging 33.68 with a Strike Rate of 152.76 since 2020—was the second option to someone like Kyle Mayers at the auction table, an unproven talent with just 6 innings at the top of the order in T20 cricket. However, apart from Vohra and Lewis, and the three batters who are expected to play a part in the playing XI, the Super Giants don’t have enough batters in their squad, thus exposing their depth in batting, especially in the middle order. They have five top-order batters fighting for three positions and four all-rounders fighting for the three middle-order roles. Thus, not having an established middle-order batter in their squad could turn out to be their Achilles heel this season.
While most teams would be happy to have one express fast bowler in their ranks, Lucknow got themselves three in Avesh Khan, Mark Wood and Dushmantha Chameera. Although this gives them an edge compared to the other franchises, the lack of variation and flexibility in that fast-bowling department can eventually come back to bite them on pitches that offer value for stroke-making. Moreover, both Chameera and Wood lack the experience of playing in the IPL; how quickly they can adapt to the tournament remains to be seen.
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As mentioned above, there is a certain lack of quality middle-order batters in the Lucknow squad, meaning the likes of Marcus Stoinis, Deepak Hooda and Krunal Pandya will have added responsibility on their shoulders to take this team past decent scores. While all three of them were mainstays in their previous teams, only Stoinis has been a consistent performer over the last two seasons. Hooda, who was a mainstay in the Punjab Kings setup last season, has been decent playing in the middle order, Averaging 25.17 and maintaining a Strike Rate of 132.46 since 2020 during the middle overs. He has batted everywhere for the Kings, from No. 3 to No. 7, but enjoyed the most success batting at No. 4, where the Super Giants will also look to slot him in — as a spin-basher during the middle overs. Krunal Pandya’s returns, on the other hand, have been on a steady decline over the last two seasons. Playing for the Mumbai Indians as one of their mainstays, the Baroda all-rounder Averaged just 16.17 in the last two years, and if that looks bad, then his bowling stats are even more appalling. Pandya took just 12 wickets in 27 games at an Average of 52.27 and kept a respectable Economy Rate of 7.79. Given the balance of the Lucknow squad, Krunal is a guaranteed starter for them, but if he doesn’t pull up his socks and put in consistent performances, then there are players like Krishnappa Gowtham and Ayush Badoni waiting in the wings.
Gowtham was the Chennai Super Kings’ highest buy last season as they forked out ₹9.25 crore for his services, but the off-spinner failed to make a single appearance for the Yellow Army. Gowtham is someone who is known to use the long handle to good effect and bowl effectively during the middle overs. Ayush Badoni, on the other hand, is a 22-year-old off-spinner from Delhi who shot to the limelight in 2018 after taking 6 wickets and scoring a counter-attacking 187* against Sri Lanka in a youth game. Thus, he can be a useful addition if Pandya fails to turn up.
The Super Giants have the lightest squad in the IPL. They are entering the tournament with just 21 players and no purse remaining, which is a tricky terrain considering these bio-bubble times.
The fact that Lucknow only have Manish Pandey as a pure middle-order batter doesn’t bode too well for their chances of challenging for the title either. His struggles in the middle overs since 2020 have been well documented. He is scoring at a Strike Rate of 114.11 during the middle overs and plays his best cricket inside the Powerplay overs with a Strike Rate of 136.51, scoring a boundary every 4.61 balls. While someone like Pandey in the No. 3 role cannot be the worst thing, given KL Rahul’s propensity to take the mantle of building the innings on his shoulders, the Super Giants might find themselves in a situation where they have two anchors—one by design, the other by choice—batting for most parts of the innings.
Lucknow have one of the best fast-bowling all-rounders in the world currently in Jason Holder, and in Marcus Stoinis, they have one of the revelations of the last two seasons. The Australian proved to be a sensation with the bat for the Delhi Capitals and was often effective with the ball in his hands during the Powerplay overs. He Averaged 13.75 with an Economy Rate of 6.88 bowling in the Powerplay, proving to be an apt first-change option to bowl the fifth or sixth over in the Powerplay.
Despite the depth and abundance of quality in their bowling ranks, the Lucknow Super Giants are too reliant on their start-studded top order to fire and a comparatively weaker middle order to consolidate the foundations set by this top order. They have the team but lack the depth to go on to win the title in their first attempt. However, a few good additions during the next mini-auction can see them become strong contenders for the following season. As far as predictions go, I expect them to make it to the Playoffs this season but miss out on making it to the final.