Inspired spells from Avesh Khan and Marcus Stoinis helped Lucknow Super Giants engineer a brilliant comeback against Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Wednesday.
Having set RR a modest target of 155, LSG seemed down for the count as the hosts were cruising at 87/0, but Stoinis (2/28) and Avesh Khan (3/25) pulled things back in brilliant fashion with the ball, guiding LSG to a 10-run victory.
The victory also helped LSG return to winning ways and close the gap on RR at the top of the IPL 2023 table. Both teams now have an identical eight points from six matches with RR placed first only based on a superior net run rate.
KL and Mayers give LSG a steady start
Put into bat first by the Royals, LSG openers KL Rahul and Kyle Mayers got the team off to a slow but steady start.
The duo only managed to keep the run rate just over run-a-ball in the first seven overs and looked to take the attack to the opposition bowlers from the seventh over. Jason Holder yielded 13 in the eighth over while Chahal got hit for 16 in the next.
Mini-collapse derails LSG
Rahul, however, departed at the crucial juncture while trying to hoist Holder over long on and falling short. Ayush Badoni and Deepak Hooda, sent in to accelerate the innings, couldn’t make a significant impact and returned to the dugout cheaply.
Kyle Mayers kept the scoreboard ticking from the other end and reached his half-century in 40 balls, but fell to Ashwin as LSG looked to be in trouble at 104/4, having lost four wickets for just 22 runs.
Pooran-Stoinis consolidate LSG innings
The mini-collapse left it to the two big hitters, Nicholas Pooran and Marcus Stoinis, with the responsibility to steady the ship. The two put together a 49-run partnership to take LSG close to the 150-mark but back-to-back wickets in the last couple of deliveries meant LSG finished with 154/7.
Chasing 155, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Jos Buttler gave Rajasthan a solid start, putting up 47 on the board in the powerplay.
Stoinis delivers the crucial breakthrough
Just as it seemed that RR were cruising to victory, Marcus Stoinis separated the Royals’ openers. A mistimed cut from Jaiswal just about carried to third man and Avesh Khan was at hand to pluck out a low catch.
Sanju Samson was shown the way to the pavilion soon after as impact sub Amit Mishra’s accurate throw from the deep and a nifty piece of glovework from Pooran caught the RR captain short of the crease.
Stoinis on point again
Things only got better for LSG as Stoinis struck again to get rid of Buttler - RR’s swashbuckling opener. The Englishman’s attempt to clear the deep midwicket boundary fell straight to Ravi Bishnoi. Shimron Hetmyer also went back without troubling the scorers too much after lifting Avesh Khan straight to Rahul at long on.
With four quick wickets, LSG had turned the contest and the momentum on its head.
Avesh Khan with a cool final over under pressure
With 42 needed from the final three overs, Devdutt Padikkal and Riyan Parag combined for 23 in the next two, leaving RR with 19 to get from Avesh Khan’s final over.
Bowling under pressure, the 26-year-old conceded five off his first two but picked up two wickets at the cost of just three runs in his next four to get LSG over the finish line.
This was the lowest total defended by any team so far in IPL 2023.
What next for the Super Giants?
LSG will host reigning champions Gujarat Titans on Saturday.
The two teams have only faced off twice in the IPL, with both the contests, played last season, going GT’s way. The Titans are currently fourth on the IPL table with three wins from five games.
Brief Scores: Lucknow Super Giants 154/7 (Kyle Mayers 51, KL Rahul 39, Ravichandran Ashwin 2/23) beat Rajasthan Royals 144/6 (Yashasvi Jaiswal 44, Jos Buttler 40, Avesh Khan 3/25, Marcus Stoinis 2/28) by 10 runs.