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KL Rahul and Ravi Bishnoi will get into India’s T20 World Cup squad if they do well for LSG: Justin Langer

After being eliminated in the playoffs in their first two seasons, Lucknow will hope new coach Justin Langer can guide them to go all the way

There are many changes in Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) for this IPL after losing in the playoffs on both the previous occasions. Mentor Gautam Gambhir left, former Australia batter and coach Justin Langer replaced Zimbabwe’s Andy Flower, former South African all-rounder Lance Klusener came in as assistant coach and England speedster Mark Wood was replaced by West Indies bowling sensation Shamar Joseph.

Lucknow Super Giants batter KL Rahul(PTI)

The newest IPL franchise with Gujarat Titans (both formed in 2022) will hope the changes take them all the way, playoffs being the first target of the KL Rahul-led side. LSG begin their campaign against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Sunday.

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Besides the team’s showing, the eyes will be on Rahul and young leg spinner Ravi Bishnoi as they have a good chance of making it to the India squad for the T20 World Cup in June in the USA and the West Indies. IPL performances will be closely watched by the national selectors.

“If the team does well, everyone gets rewarded. If KL can captain LSG to IPL title, that means he would have captained well, batted well, and kept wicket well,” chief coach Justine Langer said on Wednesday. “The message for players like Rahul and Bishnoi is that the more they concentrate on playing well for LSG, their chances of WT20 call-up will increase.”

As Rahul, back from injury, has been advised not to keep wicket in the early matches of IPL, Quinton de Kock and Nicholas Pooran are in line to don the gloves for LSG. But picking the eleven for the early games will be a challenge.

Marcus Stoinis and Shamar Joseph during LSG’s practice session

“In the last two years or so I have been sleeping well in the night but here it seems a bit difficult as picking the final eleven would be tough as we have so much talent in the side,” Langer said. “We know the blueprint of success in this format also and we just need to execute them well. Change of formats is just a mind game,” he said.

The franchise will pin its hopes on Langer after being knocked out in the Eliminator in IPL 2022 and 2023, by Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Mumbai Indians respectively.

Besides its stars, LSG will also rely on young talent such as Devdutt Paddikal, M Siddarth and Arshin Kulkarni, a seam bowling all-rounder from Maharashtra, who is a rare case of switching from bowling spin because of his height. “Kulkarni has been an amazing talent, who has got great potential. If he gets going, he will almost be unstoppable. Just keep an eye on him as he seems a big future hope,” said Langer

Shamar Joseph, 24, the Guyanese fast bowler, is the other exciting talent.

“In a way, we lack some experience, but we have enormous talent in terms of youth, who are hungry to give their best. Shamar may not have that much experience, but he is an incredible athlete, an amazing bowler with an ability to generate enough pace, and above all his enthusiasm is something great,” said Langer.

Spin bowling, however, will be vital. “Bowlers like Bishnoi along with Amit Mishra have a crucial role to play. Both are outstanding bowlers; Bishnoi’s on-field energy is great for the team,” he said.

Pitches on home turf at Lucknow’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium this time also gives Langer confidence about the batters shining.

“The pitches here look good for batters. I have been told the soil has changed and there were some good results in the ICC World Cup here,” said Langer.


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