Lucknow Super Giants skipper K.L Rahul praised his bowling attack, saying that the 20-run win over Punjab Kings at MCA Stadium on Friday was all about the bowlers.
On a sticky pitch where no batter from both sides could register a fifty, it was the Luckn'w's bowlers who triggered a middle-order wobble of Punjab to defend 153. Mohsin Khan (3/24), Dushmantha Chameera (2/17) and Krunal Pandya (2/11) were the main architects of Lucknow sealing a win that has taken them to third place in the points table.
"I was fuming after the first innings because it was stupid cricket with the bat, the experienced guys in the team. It does happen but we did talk about it at the timeout that it's a tricky pitch but 160 is something we can put on the board. But a couple of bad shots and the run-out didn't help. I was unhappy with that middle phase but this game has been completely about the bowlers," said Rahul after the match.
Chameera and Mohsin also made some late blows with the bat to enable Lucknow in getting past the 150-mark after being pushed into batting first.
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"The way they scored those crucial 25-30 runs at the back end and then the way they bowled throughout the 20 overs was brilliant. They executed their plans to perfection and they held their nerve. They were brave with the bat and ball, so really happy with the way we played as a team but batting unit I think we need to go back and get better."
Asked about his words to the team in the mid-innings phase, Rahul revealed, "We felt we did well to get to 60 in nine overs and paced it really well then after that timeout, they got going and were hitting boundaries. It was a tricky pitch and we knew it was not a 180-190 wicket."
"If one of the top-3 had continued and gotten a 70 or 80, we probably would have got 10 or 15 runs extra, but that didn't happen and we lost four or five wickets in the space of three or four overs and that pushed us back a little bit. But the way we responded with the ball was phenomenal."
Rahul also had some words of appreciation reserved for Krunal, who was miserly in his spell of 2/11, dismissing Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Jitesh Sharma while maintaining an economy rate of just 2.8. "He's been brilliant throughout the tournament and he's someone who's... he's always been an economical bowler every other IPL season but I think this season he's really worked on his bowling and is getting us those crucial wickets in the middle which is what teams need."
"You need to take wickets in the middle so you can put pressure on the batters. Yes, bowling economically is also important but if we're getting two or three wickets in the middle overs, that really puts pressure on the opposition and that is what he's been doing brilliantly."
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Supporting Krunal from the other end was Bishnoi, who castled Shikhar Dhawan but went for 41 runs in his four overs. "Bishnoi keeps getting those crucial wickets again and he is an aggressive bowler. We don't mind him tossing the ball up or trying to look for a wicket and getting hit for sixes. That's fine, that's okay with us."
Rahul signed off by hailing his pace attack for a good show in the last couple of matches. "Spinners have been brilliant but also the fast bowlers have been exceptional the last two or three games. The way they have bowled at the death, the way they have started in the Powerplay has been really, really good and that will give us a lot of confidence as a team."