Hyderabad: As the Sunrisers Hyderabad team embarked for the UAE for the 13th edition of IPL on Sunday, mentor VVS Laxman said thanks to Covid-19, the players will face a different kind of challenge. “The unprecedented lockdown forced the players to stay indoors. Most of the players have not played competitive cricket since March. Playing after a long time is a challenge,’’ said Laxman, adding, “Luckily, the BCCI and the franchises have taken necessary precautions for the conduct of the tournament so that the players can focus on their game only.”
He said it will be up to individuals on how quickly they get back into a rhythm. “For a batsman he will take quicker time to get into his stride but for fast bowlers it will take little more time to get back into rhythm,” said the former Hyderabad star batsman.
The 45-year-old mentor said IPL matches witnessed full-house stadiums since 2008. “It was an electrifying atmosphere in any IPL tournaments in the past. But it will be different this time around. The players will have to focus on their performance and will realize the importance of this tournament. I’m sure even if there is no crowd, the players will be waiting to perform as they are hungry to score runs or take wickets. Their intensity will never get dropped down.”
He feels that wickets could be on a slower side because of the hot and humid conditions in UAE. “But I’m sure the curator will prepare good wickets as they also know that IPL is one of the important events in world cricket calendar.”
Laxman said Trevor Harley Bayliss, who replaced Tom Moody this season, is a very experienced coach. “He has tremendous results whether it is IPL or World Cup or any bilateral tours as England coach. He is the coach of the World Cup winning team. I’m really excited to work with him.”
There will be tremendous competition among the players, according to Laxman. “We have got a lot of promising youngsters otherwise there is not much of change in the bowling department nor there is any change in the top order. (David) Warner and (Kane) Williamsons have been exceptional leaders for the franchise. They had a fantastic season last year. Manish Pandey is a confident batsman and Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been our consistent performer. Leg spinner Rashid Khan could relish the UAE wickets also.”
Laxman was very excited about Hyderabad left-handed all-rounder B Sandeep. “He has earned his spot in the team. If you see the Vijay Hazare and Mushtaq Ali tournaments, he impressed batting at No. 5 or No.6. He has a high strike rate and has been consistent. He is also a useful left-arm spinner as in the Vijay Hazare tournament, he has got a lot of wickets. He is a clever cricketer. He is a complete package. I’m looking forward for him to take a big part for our franchise.”
On Bhuvneshwar, Laxman pointed out that the swing bowler is coming back after an injury. “He is now fully fit and I hope he gets into a good rhythm and he is consistent in all formats of the game. The upcoming season is important for him as he can play a crucial role in Australia for the Test series.’’
The SRH mentor said yet again this year’s edition will be a keenly contested one. “There is quality and all the eight teams are very formidable. It all depends on good starts and how well the teams and players adjust to the conditions.’’
Laxman said MS Dhoni will be a big attraction. “He has been a role model and now that he has announced his retirement, people will be looking for his performances.’’
He concluded by saying that SRH have been consistent ever since their entry into IPL. “We just want to continue with that momentum and we have a very good support from Orange Army who will, unfortunately, be missed at the stadium.”
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