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IPL 2022: Can Shubman Gill be more valuable? Why Rashid Khan-Sai Kishore could be a deadly duo? – Firstcricket News, Firstpost

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Gujarat Titans became the first team to officially qualify for the playoffs of IPL 2022 as they pulled off a win over Lucknow Super Giants for the second time in the season. Unlike then, GT were setting a target here and with just 144 on board, it didn’t seem like a game that would go Gujarat’s way until Rashid Khan turned it around. Here we raise a few burning questions from the match.

How can Shubman Gill be more valuable to Gujarat Titans

GT’s Shubman Gill (left) and Hardik Pandya run between the wickets against LSG in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday. Sportzpics

Shubman Gill batted through the innings to make 63* in 49 balls for Gujarat Titans in their total of 144. With zero sixes in his innings and GT losing only four wickets, there’s the argument that Gill’s strike-rate of 128.57 wasn’t great for the team.

However, it’s difficult to view Gill’s innings in isolation without looking at how Gujarat’s batting line-up is. Like with Rajasthan Royals, GT lack batting depth and it isn’t ideal that they have Rashid Khan at No.7 in the line-up. With the wicket difficult to bat on, GT needed Gill to bat deep and he did exactly that.

While Gill has four fifties this IPL — the joint-most by any batter — and an impressive middle overs strike-rate (159.38), for the opener to be more valuable to GT and be an anchor that does not really peg the team back at all. He needs to bat through, especially at the start, at a quicker rate.

Here, he started off with just 26 runs off the first 25 balls and the pressure of the fall of wickets at the other end added to his worries. If Gill can ease down and focus on scoring opportunities, he probably wouldn’t add as much press on himself and the team.

Why are GT not backing Gurbaz instead of Wade

In six matches in IPL 2022, Wade has tallied 68 runs at an average of 13.60 and a strike-rate of 107.9. The Australia wicket-keeper batter came off a great T20 World Cup, where he played a pivotal role in the finals, and it was sort of understandable that he started at the top of the order for Gujarat Titans ahead of Wriddhiman Saha and Rahmanullah Gurbaz.

However, after five failed games by mid-April, Wade was replaced by Saha at the top and the Saha-Gill partnership was shaping up well for Gujarat. However, in a series of changes, Gujarat opted to bring him back at No.3 where Sai Sudarshan was used previously.

With Lockie Ferguson benched and an additional spin option bought in — the right move considering the track — replacing Sudarshan was understandable, but it was bizarre that they chose to go with Wade rather than Gurbaz.

The Afghanistan opener is a terrific batter in the powerplay overs with his attacking intent, striking at a rate of 154.9 in the first six overs in his T20 career. Pairing him and Saha at the top with Gill possibly moving to a No.3 role — he has batted successfully in the middle-order in the past for KKR — would have sat well with GT.

How Lucknow have been smart with bowling resources

Lucknow had as many as eight bowling options in their side for the last two matches but ended up using just five in each game. Krunal Pandya, who had bowled zero overs in the game against KKR because of their superior spin hitters, bowled his entire quota of overs here against Gujarat, and finished with an impressive spell of 4-0-24-0. In the game against Punjab Kings earlier in the season, Lucknow used Jason Holder for just one over with the Ravi Bishnoi-Krunal Pandya partnership working well against Punjab.

This is something Lucknow have done well throughout the tournament; not bowling bowlers just because they can bowl. Stoinis is a prime case in point. He has bowled just four overs this season. Every other season he has played in the IPL, Stoinis has bowled more than 10 overs.

Lucknow have also switched between using and not using Krishnappa Gowtham quite cleverly, bringing him on just for the games where he has positive matchups. With flexible options, a robust bowling attack, and smart plans, Lucknow have managed to restrict teams to par totals.

Are LSG meddling with their batting order too much?

Lucknow Super Giants have played around with their batting combinations all IPL. They have shuffled the middle-order in particular. Deepak Hooda, Manish Pandey, Evin Lewis, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jason Holder, Marcus Stoinis, Krunal Pandya, and now Karan Sharma have batted at No.3 and No.4 for Lucknow this IPL.

While a lot of these moves were based on matchups, batting combinations or conditions, the constant meddling with the batting group has left the likes of Ayush Badoni, Jason Holder and Krunal Pandya with unclear roles in the line-up.

LSG have the second-best batting average in the first 10 overs, but it drops in the second half, which is understandable, without the strike-rate taking as big a spike as some of the other teams. More defined roles in the middle-order could possibly help Lucknow.

Why the Rashid-Sai Kishore combination could be huge for GT

Rashid Khan and Sai Kishore combined to bowl 5.5 overs for just 31 runs with six wickets between them. After warming the bench at CSK for years and here at Gujarat, Sai Kishore finally got a game last night and made an instant impact with a spell of 2-0-7-2.

While that’s too low a sample size, Sai Kishore’s T20 career is defined by his economy rate — a career T20 economy rate of 5.43. It is probably no coincidence that the introduction of the left-arm spinner saw Rashid Khan pick up his first haul of more than three wickets in the IPL.

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