'Gambhir, KL Rahul should give him a free hand to play': Kaif points out LSG's game-changer for IPL 2023
Mohammed Kaif analysed LSG ahead of IPL 2023 and also selected a player, who could become KL Rahul and Gautam Gambhir's game-changer.
With IPL 2023 set to begin on March 31, many fans will be hoping for KL Rahul to put in good displays with the 50-over World Cup in sight. The wicketkeeper-batter has been erratic in international colours and will need to build some momentum in IPL 2023. During IPL 2022, which was also their debut, Rahul-led LSG were in fantastic form during the league phase, finishing in third spot, with 18 points from 14 games, including nine wins and five defeats.
Openers Rahul and Quinton de Kock were in hot form, finishing in second and third position in the Orange Cap race. Rahul finished the campaign with 616 runs in 15 matches and De Kock registered 508 in 15 games. Their dream run came to an end in the playoffs, where they lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore by 14 runs. Then, RCB went on to lose to Rajasthan Royals in the Eliminator, with Gujarat Titans defeating RR in the final.
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The franchise made some smart buys during the IPL 2023 auction, purchasing Nicholas Pooran for ₹16 crores. Other than Pooran, the franchise didn't cross the crore-mark for any other player in the auction. The West Indies wicketkeeper-batter hasn't really found his footing in the IPL, since his debut in 2017. But former India cricketer Mohammed Kaif feels that 27-year-old could be a game-changer for LSG in IPL 2023. Also someone like Pooran, could take the pressure of Rahul and De Kock on a day when they misfire.
Considered to be a big hitter in T20 cricket, Pooran could prove to be a good purchase for LSG, if he cements his position in the side's middle order. Speaking on Star Sports, Kaif felt that the LSG management and Rahul need to put less pressure on Pooran, also giving him a free hand to play. "I feel Gautam Gambhir and KL Rahul should give Pooran a free hand to play because a player like this cannot be pushed beyond a limit. You also cannot expect them to win you every match", said Kaif.
"You can set proper expectations with him, like if he is here to play 14-15 league matches, and if he makes Lucknow win 4-5 games, it's sufficient. Every time a player like Pooran loses his wicket, we think he didn't do well. But a power-hitter like Pooran requires mentoring, be supportive with gestures like an arm around the shoulder and motivate them to bring their natural game to the next match", he further added.
In 47 IPL matches, Pooran has managed to register 912 runs, packed with only four fifties. He also boasts a high score in IPL of 77 runs. Other than Pooran, LSG acquired Daniel Sams ( ₹75 lakhs), Amit Mishra ( ₹50 lakhs), Romario Shepherd ( ₹50 lakhs), Naveen Ul Haq ( ₹50 lakhs), Jaydev Unadkat ( ₹50 lakhs), Yash Thakur ( ₹45 lakhs), Swapnil Singh ( ₹20 lakhs), Yudhvir Charak ( ₹20 lakhs) and Prerak Mankad ( ₹20 lakhs). GT face Chennai Super Kings in the season opener, on March 31 in Ahmedabad. Meanwhile, LSG open their campaign against Delhi Capitals on April 1 in Lucknow.