IPL 2024: KL Rahul to arrive in Lucknow after Wednesday’s practice game, says LSG head coach Justin Langer

New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) KL Rahul will be linking up with Lucknow Super Giants after their practice game on Wednesday due to a flight delay, said the team’s head coach Justin Langer, who also stressed upon doing well for the franchise could result in him landing a spot in India’s squad for Men’s T20 World Cup.

Rahul suffering a right quadriceps injury meant he missed the entire India-England series after the Hyderabad Test in January. There’s been speculation over Rahul either opening the batting or play in the middle order, though not immediately be a wicket-keeper, for LSG, with an eye on making the cut for India’s squad in the Men’s T20 World Cup in June.

“In terms of KL, he was supposed to be here today in Lucknow for the practice game tonight. But unfortunately, he’s holed up on the airplane, so he will be at the ground later tonight. He will probably arrive after the start of day’s play and it will be his first time to be around with the boys and the team.”

“Everyone is looking forward to seeing him and we know he’s worked very hard to tick off all the Return to Play protocols. He practising and hitting lots of balls; hopefully he’s ready to go, and it would be nice to have the captain with us,” said Langer in a virtual media interaction organised by the franchise.

Asked on how he would manage a team which has players in reckoning for T20 World Cup, Langer said, “If the team does well, then everyone gets rewarded. From KL’s point of view, if he can captain Lucknow Super Giants to an IPL title, that means he would have captained well, batted and kept wickets very well.”

“The message for players, like KL or Bishi (Ravi Bishnoi) and a few others vying for T20 World Cup spots, will be that more they concentrate on playing well for LSG, more their chances of being selected (for the Men’s T20 World Cup) will increase.”

One of the biggest talking points from LSG has been their lack of experience in the fast-bowling line-up, especially after Mark Wood pulled out due to personal reasons and David Willey not linking up with the team yet after playing in the ILT20 and PSL tournament.

Moreover, Shivam Mavi, the injury prone pacer hasn’t played competitive cricket since August 2023 due to a rib injury while Delhi fast-bowler Mayank Yadav has struggled with a side strain. Left-arm fast-bowler Mohsin Khan has endured injury issues while Yash Thakur, though he picks wickets, isn’t very good in stemming the run-flow. The only experienced overseas pacer LSG has is in Afghanistan pacer Naveen-ul-Haq.

“It is a very good observation that we lack some experience in pace department, including with Mark Wood pulling out of the tournament and also David Willey won’t be coming now either. That means we lack in the experience, but what I have seen in last few days is there is enormous talent.”

“The pacers had some injuries over time, but they all look fit, healthy and very hungry. We just need to manage them well not just at start but work through the whole tournament. Naveen (ul Haq) has played a lot of T20 cricket, Mohsin (Khan) has played a lot of cricket, so its all looking pretty good.”

“Mark Wood is a world-class bowler, isn’t he? And he pulled out after the auction, which is disappointing but this is the world we live in. We also have Shamar Joseph, we have Mayank (Yadav) who bowls with very good pace. Hopefully we can replace, not (Wood’s) experience, but his pace with Shamar Joseph and Mayank. Of course he’ll be missed, he’s a world-class bowler, but this is the world we live in and we will adapt and we will be okay,” elaborated Langer.

Though West Indies Test sensation Shamar Joseph is present as Wood’s replacement, he isn’t much experienced in T20 cricket. But Langer, in his first year as LSG’s head coach after Andy Flower spent two years in the franchise, thinks Joseph has it in him to succeed in IPL 2024.

“I was commentating for the two Tests (of West Indies against Australia) and I saw him with his incredible spirit and talent pick seven wickets in 37 degrees, 80 per cent humidity and a half-broken toe to bowl 14 overs straight.”

“Yes, he doesn’t have much experience, but he didn’t have that much experience when he came to play Tests in Australia and took Steve Smith’s wicket on his first ball of the format. He’s got the smile, spirit, athleticism and skill, he has got all those ingredients that you need to succeed.”

Another issue for LSG is the make-up of their top-order, considering Rahul is the only right-handed batter who’s played in that area apart from a left-handed trio of Quinton de Kock, Kyle Mayers and Devdutt Padikkal, who’s traded in from Rajasthan Royals.

“I have been sleeping very well at night for the past two years after I left coaching Australia. Now I will have sleepless nights because it is so hard to fit in all the talent in just 11 positions. It’s a good and sweet problem to have; but we will work it out. It’s nice to have so much talent in our squad,” concluded Langer.



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