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So near yet so far as LSG falter in Eliminator once again

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Moody: Moody: LSG did well but need Indian batting depth (5:02)

Moody praises Krunal's captaincy in Rahul's absence along with Pooran and Stoinis' performances (5:02)

Where they finished

Position on table: Third after the league stage, with 17 points
Wins: Eight
Losses: Five
No result: One

Lucknow Super Giants made it to the playoffs for the second time in two years but were knocked out in the Eliminator once again, this time losing to Mumbai Indians in Chennai. Despite KL Rahul's campaign ending early with a thigh injury, Krunal Pandya led them to three wins in their four league games. But Rahul's absence, and the underwhelming returns from their other Indian batters, hurt them in the Eliminator.

The good: The overseas contingent

With Quinton de Kock away on national duty, Kyle Mayers started the tournament for LSG. His rollicking knocks - three half-centuries in his first three outings - meant de Kock had to warm the bench for a fair few games even when he was available. De Kock finally got his chance when Rahul was ruled out. He scored 143 runs in four innings at a strike rate of 140.19 but was left out for the Eliminator, a move that sparked a debate.

If Mayers gave LSG flying starts, Marcus Stoinis and Nicholas Pooran took care of the middle order, turning games around with their audacious hitting.

Stoinis had his most productive season with the bat, topping the run charts for LSG with a tally of 408. He scored those runs at a strike rate of 150 and notched up three fifties. His all-round skills came to the fore against Rajasthan Royals, where he dismissed Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal to help his side defend 154.

Pooran was fearless with the bat. His 15-ball half-century against Royal Challengers Bangalore helped LSG chase down 213. Against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he combined with Stoinis to smash Abhishek Sharma for 31 runs in a game-changing over.

Naveen-ul-Haq came good in his debut IPL season, making full use of the opportunity he got due to Mark Wood's illness. Wood had picked up 11 wickets in just four games, but the slow tracks at the Ekana Cricket Stadium meant LSG persisted with Naveen even after Wood had recovered. Naveen ended the season with 11 wickets from eight games, his four-for in the Eliminator going a long way in restricting Mumbai to 182.

Among Indian players, Ravi Bishnoi continued his growth by taking 16 wickets at an economy rate of 7.74, while Yash Thakur impressed with 13 wickets from nine games at 9.07.

Poll

The bad: Hooda's horrid season

Deepak Hooda was one of the key Indian players for LSG, more so after Rahul's injury. But he could muster only 84 runs in 12 innings with a best of 17. Ayush Badoni and Krunal played a couple of handy knocks but in the games where Stoinis and Pooran failed, the middle order looked brittle.

With Mohsin Khan not available for the first nine games, Avesh Khan was expected to shoulder extra responsibility. But he had a forgettable season. In nine games, he picked up just eight wickets at an economy of 9.75. With Naveen getting the nod over Wood, LSG missed a strike bowler in the powerplay.

Top performer: Nicholas Pooran

Once he get going, which he did more often than not, Pooran was unstoppable. His ability to attack from ball one is what allowed him to rack up two 40-plus scores at a strike rate of 300-plus: a 19-ball 62 against RCB and a 13-ball 44 against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Both innings illustrate his intelligent selection of boundary options. He finished the season with 26 fours and as many sixes. He was severe against pace bowlers, scoring at a strike rate of 198.14. Against spin, it was slightly lower - 145.45 - but only by Pooran's standards.

The highlights

  • LSG racked up 257 for 5 - the second-highest in the history of IPL - in a record-tumbling innings against Punjab Kings in Mohali. Only two of the 20 overs did not feature a boundary.

  • The 31 runs ransacked by Pooran and Stoinis off Abhishek in the 16th over against Sunrisers were the joint-most in an over in IPL 2023.

  • Pooran's 15-ball fifty against RCB is the joint-third-fastest in the IPL.