The BCCI had been mulling the idea of expanding the IPL to a 10-team competition for a while now. The plan finally came together in 2021, when the board announced two new teams that would participate in the league from the 2022 season – Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants.
Ahead of the mega auction, Lucknow signed KL Rahul (15 crores), Marcus Stoinis (11 crores) and Ravi Bishnoi (4 crores). Coming into the auction, the Super Giants were the only franchise to have utilised every penny of their purse.
At the end of the two-day bidding affair, the Super Giants were possibly the franchise with the best squad. They bought the likes of Avesh Khan – the highest wicket-taker of IPL 2022, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya and Jason Holder – three excellent all-rounders, and Quinton de Kock and Evin Lewis – two great hitters of the ball.
KL Rahul, Marcus Stoinis, Ravi Bishnoi, Quinton de Kock, Deepak Hooda, Manish Pandey, Krunal Pandya, Jason Holder, Mark Wood, Avesh Khan, Ankit Rajput, K Gowtham, Dushmantha Chameera, Shahbaz Nadeem, Manan Vohra, Mohsin Khan, Ayush Badoni, Karan Sharma, Evin Lewis, Mayank Yadav, Kyle Mayers.
The greatest strength of the Super Giants lies in their bowling depth. In the fast bowling department, they have Avesh Khan, Mark Wood and Jason Holder. Khan was the second highest wicket-taker in IPL 2021, and was also impressive on his debut for India last month. Wood and Holder bring plenty of international experience with them. The side also has Sri Lanka’s Dushmantha Chameera in its rank – Chameera can bowl tight in the death overs.
Not just the pace department, the Super Giants are equally sorted in their spin department, which consists of Ravi Bishnoi, K Gowtham and Krunal Pandya. Bishnoi, who rose through the ranks after being the highest wicket-taker in the 2020 Under 19 World Cup, bowled some great spells for the Punjab Kings last season. Gowtham is one of the most lethal spinners in domestic cricket, while the older Pandya brother has done well in the previous IPL seasons.
Skipper KL Rahul, who has been among the best batsmen in the IPL for three successive years is another of Lucknow’s strengths. Rahul did well as the captain of the Punjab Kings, and will be looking to use that experience for his new franchise. The likes of KL, de Kock and Lewis can score knocks at huge strike rates.
It is worth mentioning that the team will be mentored by two-time IPL winning captain Gautam Gambhir. The presence of Gambhir in the dugout and team meetings will be another huge boost for the IPL debutants.
As aforementioned, Lucknow have most of their bases covered. However, one area of concern – although not major – is lack of Indian batsmen. Apart from KL Rahul, the team does not have a match-winning Indian batsman. Manish Pandey has not been able to perform the last few seasons, while Manan Vohra is not dependable either. They do have Indian all-rounders in Hooda and Pandya, both of whom can bat. But they need someone who can anchor the innings. It will be interesting to see how the team solves this issue by picking the best XI in which they can fit the best four overseas players.
Predicted playing XI – Quinton de Kock (wk), KL Rahul (C), Manish Pandey, Marcus Stoinis, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Jason Holder, Krishnappa Gowtham, Avesh Khan, Mark Wood, Ravi Bishnoi