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‘If KL Rahul performs well in IPL, reward will be…’: LSG head coach Justin Langer | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Head coach Justin Langer believes that if KL Rahul leads Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) to their maiden IPL title, it would automatically earn him a spot in the Indian team for the T20 World Cup. Langer emphasised the importance of national hopefuls focusing on performing well for their franchises first.
Rahul, who is recovering from a quadriceps injury and may not initially take on wicket-keeping duties in the IPL, is not yet assured of a place in the Indian T20 squad.Langer stressed that only a strong performance with both bat and gloves in the IPL could secure Rahul’s spot in the national team.When asked about balancing Rahul’s personal ambition with the team’s interests, Langer indicated that it isn’t a complicated matter.
“If the team does well, everyone gets rewarded. If KL can captain LSG to the IPL title, that means he would have captained well, batted well and kept wickets well,” Langer replied to a PTI query during a season-opening media interaction on Wednesday.
Apart from KL Rahul, another serious contender for the T20 World Cup from LSG is leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi. Bishnoi’s impressive performances in the IPL could also bolster his chances of selection for the Indian team in the T20 World Cup.
“The message for players, like KL or Bishi (Bishnoi) will be that the more they concentrate on playing well for LSG, their chances (of WT20 call-up) will increase.”
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Rahul is anticipated to join the team on Wednesday evening due to a flight delay. However, the former Australian opener didn’t provide any information regarding when the star player would commence wicket-keeping duties.
“He has followed all the ‘Return To Play’ protocols and he has been hitting a lot of balls.”
Bowling thin on experience but talent amazing
With foreign recruits Mark Wood and David Willey ruled out of the tournament, the pace bowling unit of LSG appears to lack experience.
Shivam Mavi, known for his pace but also prone to injuries, hasn’t participated in competitive cricket since August 2023. Additionally, Delhi’s promising fast bowler Mayank Yadav missed the entire Ranji Trophy season due to a side strain.
Mohsin Khan, who made a mark in the 2022 IPL, has been plagued by injury problems, further exacerbating the team’s concerns. Moreover, Yash Thakur lacks significant experience at the tournament level, adding to the team’s bowling challenges.
“It is a very good observation that we lack some experience in the pace department but there is enormous talent. The pacers — they all look fit, healthy and hungry.
“We need to manage them well not just at the start but through the whole tournament. Among pacers Naveen (ul Haq) has played a lot of T20 cricket,” the 2021 T20 World Cup and multiple Ashes winning coach, said.

The coach expressed great admiration for Mayank, describing him as a phenomenal talent with “serious pace,” indicating high praise for the young fast bowler’s abilities.
In addition to Mayank, LSG have Naveen-ul-Haq as another overseas fast bowler. Joining them is Shamar Joseph, the West Indies sensation, who has garnered acclaim for his performances in the recent two Tests in Australia, winning hearts with his impressive displays.
However, with very little T20 experience even in the Caribbean Premier League, will he come in handy in IPL? Langer sounded bullish.
“He didn’t have experience even before going into two Test matches,” Langer sounded dismissive about the experience bit.
“I was commentating and I saw him take seven wickets in 37 degrees, 80 per cent humidity and a broken toe. He is an incredible athlete. Smile, spirit, athleticism and skill, he has got all those ingredients that you need to succeed. Another talented guy is Mayank.”
Langer was also pretty confident about the spin bowling arsenal of his team, especially Bishnoi and the 41-year-old veteran leg-break bowler Amit Mishra.
Tamil Nadu’s left-arm spinner M Siddharth has also caught coach’s attention.
“He (Bishnoi) is an outstanding bowler. I love his energy. I watched his training. There is no better pure leg-spinner than Mishi (Mishra’s nickname). I saw young M Siddarth, who bowled a maiden over first-up in a training game. There is Krishnappa Gowtham.”
Asked about the possibility of a face-off with Gautam Gambhir, the feisty former India player who was previously the mentor of LSG before joining KKR ahead of this season, coach Langer expressed admiration for the work Gambhir had done with the franchise.
“There is no face-off. I was disappointed when he left for KKR but he is a real hero in KKR. We have been good friends,” said Langer, who had once conducted personalised coaching sessions for Gambhir in Perth, when he needed to sort out his game against the short ball.
“But then when we play DC, my good friend Ricky Ponting is the coach, in CSK, Stephen Fleming and Mike Hussey are friends.”
‘Coaching an IPL team is…’
For Langer, coaching an IPL team is quite similar to coaching an international team.
“It is only at domestic level that you get players for pre-season. At international level, players only assemble before competition phase. So it is pretty similar.”
Having guided Australia to a T20 World Cup title, Langer said that he knows the “blue-print of success” but it will be important to execute the plans.
“I have been sleeping well for the past two years after I left coaching Australia. Now I will have sleepless nights in fitting so much talent in just 11 slots,” he said referring to his forced break he had to take after leaving the Australia job for not getting a long-term contract following discontent among players.
(With PTI inputs)

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