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Yellow fever in Lucknow brings out the best in Rahul & Co

Updated on: 21 April,2024 07:00 AM IST  |  Lucknow
Santosh Suri |

KL steals MSD’s thunder and played one of his best IPL innings to ensure his team romped to a much-required win to stay in the top five on the points

Yellow fever in Lucknow brings out the best in Rahul & Co

Lucknow Super Giants skipper KL Rahul is greeted by CSK's Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni after his team’s victory in the Indian Premier League at Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow on Friday. Pic/PTI

The massive support MS Dhoni and his Chennai Super Kings got from the Lucknow crowd on Friday night only made the home team more determined. Lucknow Super Giants, led by their skipper KL Rahul, gave off their best performance of the season to down their rivals convincingly by eight wickets despite a sea of yellow jerseys, instead of LSG’s Blue,dominating the stands at the Ekana Stadium. In fact, it seemed the match was being played at the Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, with spectators cheering each shot played by the CSK batters. However, by the end of the match, Rahul had stolen MSD’s thunder and played one of his best IPL innings to ensure his team romped to a much-required win to stay in the top five on the points table. Coming into the match after two straight defeats, LSG played like a team possessed, with their skipper leading the way. In the earlier matches, Rahul’s strike rate was questioned in the media and there were insinuations of him playing for himself rather than the team. There is no doubt that Rahul is desperately fighting for a berth in the Indian team for the T20 World Cup and has been batting with some circumspection. But on Friday night he was back at his fluent best, facing up to the pace-dominated CSK bowling with elan. Drives, pulls and cuts flowed from his bat as he raced away to his half-century in just 31 balls to show his intent for the team’s cause. His superb 134-run opening partnership with Quinton de Kock virtually sealed the fate of the match. His 53-ball 82 at a strike rate of 155 has enhanced his chances of being in the US-bound India team for the upcoming World Cup.

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The two teams are scheduled to clash again, this time in Chennai on Tuesday.  Post-match Rahul said tongue in cheek: “I don't think the crowd in Chennai will roar for us. I told the boys in huddle [before the CSK match on Friday] to get used to the crowd cheering for CSK because we would get it again in a few days. Yes, we are looking forward to playing CSK in a few days."

Rahul praised the hard work and effort the team members put in preparation for the match and the time spent by the coaches on the tactics and strategy. "It really feels good at the end of the day. When you win, it looks like you made all the decisions right, though it is impossible to get all right. It depends on the kind of wicket we are playing on and the kind of batters there are. We spend a lot of time doing homework on tactics and strategy. We worked really hard at training, and it’s good to see the team sticking to that [and reaping dividends].”

He said that the team had aimed to restrict CSK to a total of 160. “We felt the wicket was slow, a bit of grip but not too much. 160-165 would have been ideal. But MSD walks in and the bowlers feel intimidated. When he walked in, the bowlers were under pressure and the crowd was really loud. [What he did with the bat] he has done it in the past. However, at the halfway stage [despite chasing 175 for a win] we felt that if we batted well, we could chase it down. Luckily, we had a good start. Chennai's spinners tried to put brakes on us but we tried to take them down. Luckily it all came off well for us in the end.”

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