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Lucknow Super Giants v Chennai Super Kings
Thursday 31 March, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Holder availability a big boost
It’s hard to think of a worst possible start for KL Rahul and Lucknow. The big-name signing and skipper was out first ball on review against Gujarat, a feather being picked up by hot spot.
Quinton de Kock and Evin Lewis followed shortly before fifties from the experienced Deepak Hooda and debutant Ayush Badoni, helped by a cameo from Krunal Pandya, at least gave them something (159) to bowl at.
At one stage they had Gujarat in trouble so credit goes to their bowling. But the total was never going to be quite enough on a wicket favouring the chaser.
They’ll be delighted to be able to play Jason Holder here. He’s available after being an important part of the West Indies team who just beat England in the Test series and given they only played three overseas players last time, they won’t have to sacrifice one for him to come in.
They also have the option of replacing Evin Lewis with Kyle Mayers and having another bowling option.
Rahul, De Kock, Pandey, Deepak Hooda, Badoni, Krunal, Holder, Chameera, Mohsin Khan, Bishnoi, Avesh Khan.
Jadeja and CSK need to bounce back
Sometimes it’s hard to know what MS Dhoni is thinking.
Why did he resign the CSK captaincy? Why did he wait till the eve of the start of the IPL to do so? Was it fair on CSK that he did so after being retained (presumably) based on the understanding he was going to stay on as skipper?
Ravindra Jadeja takes over as skipper and becomes one of the most hard-worked players at the tournament given he’s a genuine all-rounder away from captaincy duties.
They weren’t great against KKR with Jadeja himself just one of several batsmen who struggled on the day. Interestingly, it was Dhoni rolling back the years with a rare half-century to top score for them.
It was a poor performance all round but they can be excused one and they badly missed Moeen Ali, who is available for this match.
Gaikwad, Conway, Ali, Rayudu, Uthappa, Jadeja, Dhoni, Bravo, Dube, Milne, Deschpande.
Brabourne isn’t often used in the IPL so we really don’t have much to go on.
But it was here that Delhi chased Mumbai’s big total (178) after a middle-order collapse at the weekend. So, whereas predicting a par score isn’t so straightforward, predicting what the captain who wins the toss will do, should be.
After Delhi’s success in that chase and the fact that four of the five matches so far have been won by the chaser, bowling first will be the easy choice.
Toss could be crucial at Brabourne
As a new franchise (Lucknow), there’s obviously no head-to-head to go by here. Although given the vast personnel changes, you could argue that’s not of much use anyway this season.
CSK are 1.738/11 favourites, which sounds about right. They’re the defending champions, a lot of these guys have played together over the years, with CSK buying back more players than most other teams, and are better drilled as a result.
That’s fair enough but I think Lucknow are a better side than they showed on Monday and will be stronger for having Holder on board.
This looks like the sort of game between two relatively evenly-matched teams that could be yet again won by the chaser. With that in mind, backing Lucknow at 2.35/4 and hoping the toss goes their way looks the slightly smarter pre-toss option.
But we can find better bets than that.
Rahul to bite back
It’s hard to keep a good man down and they don’t come much better than KL Rahul. His record in the IPL is as good as anyone’s in terms of average, strike rate and bulk of runs over the last three years. In fact, it’s probably the best full stop. He got a good one first up last time but that could happen to anyone.
Quinton de Kock (11/4) rates a big threat of course but his record is nowhere near Rahul’s, while Evin Lewis is batting out of position and doesn’t boast a great record in the IPL. Deepak Hooda was an 8/1 winner last time and has been cut to 15/2 but you’d need another top order collapse for him to have a chance here again.
So we’re going with the man who has averaged over 50 in the competition for the past four years, especially because he’s been price boosted to 13/5 from 21/10.
Holder’s numbers speak for themselves
Jason Holder is another with an excellent record in the IPL over the years, with the ball.
His overall record of 35 wickets in 26 games is good enough but it’s even better when you look at how he’s done over the past two seasons: 14 in seven (2020) and 16 in eight (2021). If this goes true to form here and he claims two wickets, he’ll have very chance.
It really does make you wonder why he wasn’t an automatic pick at SRH for the past couple of years, given he also bats.
In a relatively inexperienced bowling line-up, he could be the one using all of his experience here and 7/2 is pretty decent for a player with his numbers.