One of the two new franchises set to enter the scene from IPL 2022 will be based in Lucknow. The team was bought for an unprecedented sum of INR 7,090 for a period of the next ten editions of the IPL recently.
The Lucknow franchise will be playing their home games at the newly-built Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow, which has hosted a handful of T20I matches previously.
Ahead of the IPL 2022, one major point of attention for the Lucknow-based side will be to build a squad that serves them well for at least the next three-year cycle of the league.
The team will have to make do with a squad from a pool of players that the existing IPL franchises decide not to retain. But if they get their process at the auction right, they’ll still be boasting a competitive line-up.
One big call will be on the captaincy front. The new franchise will have to identify the right candidate who can lead the team from the front and provide his team the right base and the launchpad in the tournament.
With that in mind, here are the three strong candidates that the Lucknow franchise can keep an eye on as their potential first captain.
1. KL Rahul
Amid reports that Rahul is likely to part ways with Punjab Kings (PBKS), there is a great sense of anticipation around India and Karnataka right-hander’s future in the IPL. If not retained by PBKS, would Rahul go back to his roots and play for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) next year or he will be playing for one of the two new teams in a fresh start?
In either case, the Lucknow franchise should be going after KL Rahul, considering his class and form at the top of the order. In the last three editions of the IPL, the elegant batter has collected 1,889 runs from his 41 innings with an average of 57.24 and strike-rate of 134.25.
PBKS may have not tasted desired success under Rahul’s captaincy but that has been more down to their improper batting unit and inexperienced bowling attack than any issues on the leadership front. If Lucknow can back the potential appointment of Rahul with a robust line-up, they can expect to enjoy different results.
2. Shreyas Iyer
When Delhi Capitals (DC) decided not to reappoint Iyer at the helm for the UAE leg of the IPL 2021, it came across as a massive surprise. Iyer led DC brilliantly for three straight seasons since his elevation to the post midway through the IPL 2018. Under his captaincy, Delhi reached the playoffs in IPL 2019 after seven straight unsuccessful seasons and made the final of the IPL 2020.
Iyer is a proven success as captain and is also a capable middle-order player. He has made 2,375 runs in his IPL career with an average of 31.66 and strike-rate of 123.95. With the likelihood that other players will pip Iyer in DC’s retention list, he becomes a potential captaincy option for the Lucknow side.
3. Ravichandran Ashwin
Another player that has done well for DC but is unlikely to be retained because of other stronger candidates is off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Ashwin joined the DC camp back in 2020 and has taken 20 wickets for the franchise at 7.54 runs per over. But he wasn’t at his best in the recent edition of the IPL, taking only 7 wickets from 13 innings while going for 7.41 in what was a low-scoring event.
However, few will challenge the fact that Ashwin is one of the legends of IPL cricket with an excellent overall record to his name: 145 wickets and an economy rate of only 6.41. Ashwin also has decent enough captaincy experience under his belt due to his time with the Punjab franchise in 2018 and 2019 editions of the IPL.
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