Over the past couple of seasons, the duo have formed a formidable opening combo for the Punjab franchise before Rahul was signed by Lucknow Super Giants ahead of the 2022 IPL mega auction, leaving his best friend to lead the red and gold brigade under the guidance of another Karnataka superstar Anil Kumble.
Having played eight matches each, Punjab find themselves at the seventh spot with four wins while Lucknow are at fourth with five wins. Both teams walk into the game on the back of thrilling wins in their previous outings.
The sub plot of the contest would certainly be the hot and cold form of the opening combinations on either side. After parting ways with Rahul, Punjab found a perfect replacement in Shikhar Dhawan. In Dhawan, Punjab not only can boast of a left-right combination with Mayank, but also a dependable batter, who has the ability to win matches single-handedly on his day.
Eyes on the ball, feet on the ground, just like a #SuperGiant 💪🏽#AbApniBaariHai💪#IPL2022 🏆 #bhaukaalmachadenge… https://t.co/Br0A5ThfYM
— Lucknow Super Giants (@LucknowIPL) 1651202924000
Against Chennai Super Kings in their previous game, Dhawan smoked an unbeaten 88 to arrest a lean patch, besides becoming the second ever batter after Virat Kohli to amass 6,000 IPL runs. Punjab, however, will be a bit concerned with the form of Mayank, who has scored only 136 runs, with one half century in the seven matches this season.
The return of Sri Lankan southpaw Bhanuka Rajapaksa in the No. 3 slot has bolstered Punjab’s batting, and the top three will be expected to set the platform for power-hitters Liam Livingstone and Jonny Bairstow to explode on a batting paradise at the MCA Stadium, which has seen high-scoring contests.
Your pace may have fire, our pace has thermonuclear power 🦸♂️ #SaddaPunjab #PunjabKings #IPL2022 #ਸਾਡਾਪੰਜਾਬ… https://t.co/lyCDy9nPMO
— Punjab Kings (@PunjabKingsIPL) 1651163400000
Similarly for Lucknow, Rahul stands only behind Rajasthan’s Jos Buttler in the race to the Orange Cap, with 368 runs, inclusive of two centuries against Mumbai Indians. But his opening partner Quinton De Kock (225 runs) is yet to reach his peak. Lucknow will also expect the likes of Manish Pandey, Marcus Stoinis, Deepak Hooda and the rest of the batters to show some consistency as the tournament progresses.
Against a bowling department that boasts of variety, led by the fiery Kagiso Rabada, and the constantly improving left-armer Arshdeep Singh, it certainly won’t be a walk in the park for the Lucknow batters. Also in their previous game, Punjab found two new bowling heroes in the form of Rishi Dhawan and Sandeep Sharma, utilizing their wealth of domestic experience to great effect.
Ellis hits the bull’s eye 🎯#PunjabKings #SaddaPunjab #IPL2022 #ਸਾਡਾਪੰਜਾਬ #NathanEllis https://t.co/FWnUnRrAQ1
— Punjab Kings (@PunjabKingsIPL) 1651161600000