Lucknow Super Giants were extremely close to maintaining their 100% win record at home in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 season. Alas, Punjab Kings, with a two-wicket win in the final over, became the first team to breach Lucknow’s fortress, the BRSABV Ekana Cricket Stadium, on Saturday.

Despite the loss, there were plenty of positive takeaways from the game for LSG. 

KL Rahul’s gritty 56-ball 74 not only helped the Super Giants score 159/8 on a tricky wicket, but also made him the fastest player to reach the milestone of scoring 4000 runs in IPL in 105 innings.

Debutant Yudhvir Singh took 2/19 in three overs to give LSG one more quality seam bowling option upfront. Ravi Bishnoi (2/18) and Mark Wood (2/35) continued to be among the wickets, helping LSG make a match of it on the day when batters struggled on both sides of the camp. 

KLASS is permanent

It was just a matter of time before KL Rahul got to his first fifty of IPL 2023. The skipper held onto one end of a tough wicket and kept the scoreboard moving despite wickets falling regularly at the opposite end. 

First, Rahul stitched a 53-run stand for the opening wicket with Kyle Mayers (29 off 23). After Mayers departed, Rahul, who paced his innings with eight fours and a six, ensured LSG set a challenging target with Marcus Stoinis (15 off 11) and Nicholas Pooran not able to add much to the score this time. 

LSG could not accelerate in the final five overs of their batting innings, managing just 4/48 which ultimately came down to hurt them on the day. 

Yudhvir Singh’s perfect debut

LSG just had about a par score of 159 to defend but Yudhvir Singh’s first over of his IPL career fetched him the wicket of Atharva Taide on the third ball. He then came back to bowl the third over and sent Prabhsimran Singh’s stumps on cartwheels on the second ball. 

LSG capitalised on the start and restricted Punjab Kings to 45/3 at the end of the powerplay. 

Bishnoi spun the game for LSG

LSG withheld their premier spinner Bishnoi till the end of 14 overs. He bamboozled Sam Curran, who was leading the Kings in the absence of injured Shikhar Dhawan, with his length in his first over to open up the game for LSG.

He came into the attack for the second time when PBKS required just 23 off 18. He, then, picked up the wicket of a set Sikandar Raza (57 off 41) and gave away just three runs to stretch the game further. In the final over, Bishnoi had just seven to defend which ultimately proved too little against an on-song Shahrukh Khan.

What Next for Super Giants?

LSG will be up against IPL 2022 finalists Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur’s Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Wednesday, April 19. The Royals, like LSG, are also in terrific form this season and have the explosive batters Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Sanju Samson in their line-up. 

The two teams faced each other twice last season with RR emerging on top on both occasions. Ravi Bishnoi’s 2/31 restricted the Royals to 178/6 but LSG lost the match by 25 runs despite Deepak Hooda’s impressive 59.

The second match was a much closer affair. Avesh Khan (1/31) and Krishnappa Gowtham (2/30) bowled economically as RR put on 165/6. Marcus Stoinis struck a quickfire 38 off 17 but Super Giants eventually fell three runs short.

Brief Scores: Punjab Kings 161/8 (Sikandar Raza 57, Matt Short 34, Ravi Bishnoi 2/18) beat Lucknow Super Giants 159/8 (KL Rahul 74, Kyle Mayers 29, Sam Curran 3-31) by two wickets.