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KL Rahul’s strike rate in focus again as LSG face PBKS in crucial mid-table clash

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Mohali, April 27 (PTI): Lucknow Super Giants would be looking to move on from an inexplicable batting performance when they take on Punjab Kings in a crucial mid table clash in the Indian Premier League here on Friday.

Halfway into the competition, both teams have four wins from seven games and would be aiming to find consistency in the tight race to the IPL play-offs.

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Though Lucknow pitch has not been ideal for batting, skipper K L Rahul’s strike rate became the talking point again as his team failed on Saturday last to chase down 136 against Gujarat Titans from a commanding position.

Rahul has a strike rate of 113.91 so far in the competition and can surely do better on that front.

Though 200 has not yet been scored at the PCA Stadium in the season so far, the pitch here should be friendlier for the batter compared to the 22 yards in Lucknow.

The absence of pacer Mark Wood, who has not played since April 15 due to illness, has weakened the LSG attack considerably and the team would be wishing for his early return. Wood still remains the leading wicket taker for them despite missing three games.

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Punjab Kings, on the other hand, would look to return to winning ways at home after a couple of losses. Full time captain Shikhar Dhawan has missed the last three games due to a shoulder injury but could return for the LSG fixture.

“He is recovering well and could be in action tomorrow,” said a team source.

Punjab Kings, who have been guilty of throwing it away in the past, are making a conscious effort to raise their game as the tournament progresses.

The top-order comprising Prabhsimran Singh and Matthew Short need to stay longer in the middle while the dangerous Liam Livingstone is yet to come into his own after two games.

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Stand in captain Sam Curran showed against Mumbai Indians why Punjab paid Rs 18.5 crore for his services and his contribution with both bat and ball holds key for the team.

Arshdeep Singh has been brilliant both with new and old ball while the team will need to take a tough call in choosing between Nathan Ellis and Kagiso Rabada, who has played only a couple of games so far.

A lot more is expected from leggie Rahul Chahar in the middle overs as he has managed to take only two wickets in seven games.

The Teams (From):

Punjab Kings: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Arshdeep Singh, Baltej Singh, Rahul Chahar, Sam Curran, Rishi Dhawan, Nathan Ellis, Gurnoor Brar, Harpreet Brar, Harpreet Singh, Vidwath Kaverappa, Liam Livingstone, Mohit Rathee, Prabhsimran Singh, Kagiso Rabada, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, M Shahrukh Khan, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Shivam Singh, Matthew Short, Sikandar Raza, Atharva Taide.

Lucknow Super Giants: KL Rahul (c), Kyle Mayers, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Amit Mishra, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Naveen ul Haq, Ayush Badoni, Avesh Khan, Karan Sharma, Yudhvir Charak, Yash Thakur, Romario Shepherd, Mark Wood, Swapnil Singh, Manan Vohra, Daniel Sams, Prerak Mankad, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jaydev Unadkat, Marcus Stoinis, Ravi Bishnoi and Mayank Yadav.

Match starts 7.30 pm IST.

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