HYDERABAD: Sunrisers Hyderabad have taken a quantum leap, compared to last year. They were underdogs then, having finished a lowly sixth in the previous two editions. But by the end of the ninth edition, they were champions, led by in-form skipper David Warner and thanks to a handy bowling attack at his disposal.
Come Wednesday, the opening match of IPL-10 against last year’s finalists Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium here, will be important as they will look to carry forward the momentum generated by the run to the title in 2016. RCB, meanwhile, will hope that the ever increasing list of injured players does not grow further. The core of the batting unit, in the form of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, will not figure in the encounter owing to injuries.
Youngster Sarfaraz Khan, who played important cameos last season, is most likely to miss the tournament owing to an injury he suffered during a practice session on Monday. The hosts will feel lucky to not have been bitten by the injury bug, even though they missed out on the evening practice session a day before the match due to a spell of rain.
“It’s a totally different tournament every year. We need to keep evolving,” SRH head coach Tom Moody said on Tuesday.
One of the most crucial factors in Hyderabad’s title triumph last season was the consistently aggressive form of Warner. Moody felt the 29-year-old’s transformation from a specialist T20 player to a master of all formats was commendable. “With adjustments to his technique, he was able to become a complete player,” Moody noted.
“He’s always hungry for more. Despite a back-door entry into the Australian team, he has become one of their important players,” he added.
A little more than 10 days ago, ground staff at the stadium here were on strike. But they did a good job, as Moody was content with the wicket. “The ground staff here have always done an excellent job.”
The contest is between a full-strength squad and another that has been robbed due to injuries. But Moody feels the job is the same. “It’s a game of 120 balls, and each ball has to be dealt with,” the 51-year-old explained.
The coach dropped a hint that Rashid Khan, the Afghanistan leg-spin sensation, may get a look in, saying youngsters lend an edge to the team. “Both Afghan players lend diversity to our squad (the other being Mohammad Nabi), and Rashid could give us an edge.”
The last thing the Southern rivals would want is rain gods playing spoilsport.