Saturday, June 3, 2023

LSG all set to bring de Kock into the mix

The Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) are all set to bring in keeper-batter Quinton de Kock for the game against Punjab Kings at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium here on Saturday.

If all goes well, the South African cricketer will not only take over keeping duties from Nicolas Pooran but will also open the innings with skipper KL Rahul, replacing Kyle Mayers.

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Bringing it de Kock has become a rather obvious move after the successive failures of Mayers, who couldn’t get going in the last two matches, scoring just 13 against Hyderabad on his home ground and a duck against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the away match even though LSG won both the matches.

Mayers has a strike rate of 180.52 in his first season in the IPL courtesy of a 38-ball 73 in the opening game against Delhi Capitals and a 22-ball 53 against MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings in Chennai. He has also bowled four overs with an economy of 7.00 but hasn’t taken a wicket yet.

LSG won both their home matches while they suffered a defeat in the away match against Chennai Super Kings last week, before notching up a thrilling last-ball win against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore at Bangalore.

De Kock missed the start of the season due to international commitments. He was available for selection for the previous fixture but was given some more time to settle down. But given his consistency and impact, LSG won’t want to keep him out for too long. He made his IPL debut in 2013 and has so far played 92 matches, scoring 2,764 runs with an average of 32.14.

He has also slammed two centuries and 19 half-centuries with the highest score of 140 not out. The South African has hit 277 fours and 106 sixes in his IPL career and when he does get going, he can be hard to stop.

“He (Quinton) holds a good chance of playing against Punjab Kings in the next match on home turf here as his experience and class of batting are something different. His utility as an opener has been something great for the side even in the last season when he scored 500 plus runs,” said a team official on Thursday.

Both chief coach Andy Flower and fielding coach Jonty Rhodes have already praised the 31-year-old keeper-batter before the start of the new IPL season. De Kock’s 8,889 runs in as many as 304 T20 matches in leagues around the world at a strike rate of 138.41 show why he is an important cog for any side he plays in.

Besides drafting Quinton in the playing XI, the LSG is likely to go with three other overseas players like Nicolas Pooran, Marcus Stoinis and Mark Wood in the match against Punjab Kings. They are also expected to keep playing Ayush Badoni as an ‘Impact Player’ in place of experienced leggie Amit Mishra, who has so far taken three important wickets in two matches.

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