HYDERABAD: The captain and vice-captain of Australia up against each other in the biggest T20 league on the planet! Seemed exciting. Didn’t it? But following sanctions imposed on Steve Smith and David Warner for ball-tampering, that is not happening.
Despite their omission, a mouth-watering contest is on the cards when SunRisers Hyderabad led by Kane Williamson take on Ajinkya Rahane’s Rajasthan Royals in their first match in IPL 11 at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium on Monday. While the home team’s strength is bowling, the visitors are making a comeback after serving a two-year ban.
SRH have retained the core of their team and at the same time, brought in successful IPL stars like Manish Pandey. Warner’s exit has also changed equations in the batting order.
“We’ve got a different dynamic to our top six than what we had so far. I am not expecting Shikhar (Dhawan) to go out there and suddenly play like Warner. We’ve got utmost confidence in the players who will be in our top six or seven,” SRH head coach Tom Moody said.
SRH mentor VVS Laxman had emphasised that the management were not satisfied with the way things had shaped up in the middle-order last year.
“It was a conscious effort to solidify the middle-order,” Laxman had said. One look at the squad of the Royals reveals the striking similarity between them and the Rising Pune Supergiant team of last year. Rahane, Jaydev Unadkat (most expensive Indian this year), Ben Stokes (most expensive player) and Rahul Tripathi were part of the Pune side that reached the final in 2017. “As a captain, it is good to have so many players from your previous team,” opined Rahane.
Weather concern remains
The only thing that could play spoilsport is the weather. In the last few days, heavy spells of rain have lashed the city, with SRH missing their first practice session a week ago. However, the outfield seems to be in good condition. “The ground seems to drain very well. The rains haven’t really affected our practice. Over the last couple of days the ground staff have covered the entire ground,” Moody said.