Lucknow Super Giants captain KL Rahul conceded that the result of the IPL 2022 Eliminator match against Royal Challengers Bangalore could have been in their favour if they had ‘”two big hits’ in the middle overs. Chasing 208, Lucknow had Rahul (79 off 58 balls) and Deepak Hooda (45 off 26 balls) partnering for a 96-run stand for the second wicket.
But Bangalore came back hard, on the back of excellent bowling in the backend from Josh Hazlewood and Harshal Patel, to win the match by 14 runs and set up a Qualifier 2 clash with Rajasthan Royals in Ahmedabad on Friday. Though Lucknow had 81/1 in their middle overs, many felt that the acceleration coming with the last seven overs in the match was too late.
“This season has been like every other season – a good learning. As a team, it has been a challenging season, a good season. We learnt a lot. Now looking back, yes, it is just about two big hits in the middle overs and that could have gotten us over the line,” said Rahul in the post-match virtual press conference.
“It’s not that we didn’t try to hit those fours or sixes, we were trying but I think in the middle they bowled really well. Harshal Patel’s two overs pushed us back a little. He gave away just seven or eight runs, he really changed his pace well. He bowled to the field and that pushed us back a little bit,” added Rahul.
Dropping three catches in four overs, of Dinesh Karthik on four, and of Rajat Patidar on 72 and 93 proved to be fatal for Lucknow as Bangalore smacked a whopping 84 runs off the last five overs, with Patidar racing to a sensational 49-ball century. Rahul admitted that the dropped chances by Lucknow in a match of fine margins came back to hit them hard.
“It is hard to pinpoint one thing. Skills-wise, you can have a bad day and can go wrong with your execution with bat and ball. Something that has let us down badly in this game is our fielding. We dropped some easy catches. I dropped DK (Dinesh Karthik) when he was batting, probably in single digits”
“(Rajat) Patidar was dropped when he was batting on 60 or 70. Dropping them cost us that extra 30-40 runs. We fought really hard and tried our best to chase down the target. But we were just two hits away and had we gotten those in the middle overs, probably we would have won this game.”
In IPL 2022, Rahul’s average while batting first was 85 while his average while batting second was just 27.28 (pushed after 79 in Eliminator). Rahul acknowledged that doing better in the second innings with the bat will be a point of improvement for Lucknow in the 2023 IPL.
“I did focus on my stats that this season I didn’t score many runs in the second innings. But this was a big game and when you come to a big game, you forget whatever you did in the last 14 games. You try to play this game as a fresh game and you try to give your best. I tried the same even today.”
“I didn’t score too many runs in the second innings this season but in other seasons I have really done well, and I enjoy chasing. Sometimes you are not as successful. But it’s a team game and the team has really stepped up even when we were chasing. We won a few games but generally overall in this season, we didn’t do well while chasing, so it’s something we need to learn.”