IPL 2018: Upbeat Sunrisers ready for Kings XI challenge

Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor V.V.S. Laxman and coach Tom Moody’s reiteration of able replacements stepping up for the regulars has been borne out by performances from their wards.

Sunrisers Hyderabad's Kane Williamson during a training session.   -  KVS Giri

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) may be a side beleaguered by injury and absence of its key players. Nonetheless, under Kane Williamson, its low-profile captain, a man of few words but capable of big deeds, it has shaken off the setbacks to emerge stronger and spring some stunning surprises.

Mounting numbers in the wounded list — Billy Stanlake, who’s left for Australia with a fractured finger, Shikhar Dhawan rapped on the knee and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the league’s most economical bowler to date, laid low by a back injury — didn’t seem to deter the southern squad in its last outing, against Mumbai Indians.

SRH mentor VVS Laxman and coach Tom Moody’s reiteration of able replacements stepping up for the regulars has been borne out by performances from their wards. Tuesday’s match against Mumbai Indians is a case in point when it bucked the trend by beating the side that batted second even when defending a meagre total and more importantly in rival territory.

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SRH’s two defeats so far, one of them against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), will not weigh too heavily against it, when the two sides meet at the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium on Thursday.

Few will dispute that the Sunrisers went down fighting in both those reversals, more so in its last loss to Chennai Super Kings off the very last ball.

 

Rashid Khan, who came in for rough treatment in those debacles, bounced back in the rout of Mumbai and lived up to the belief reposed in him by Williamson and Laxman. The wily leg-spinner should have a hand in containing the carnage that can be unleashed by the big-hitting Chris Gayle.

The strapping Jamaican, who has run riot almost everywhere, down the years was not quite in his element in Hyderabad. According to Hyderabad Cricket Association scorer/statistician Shakeel Ahmed, the dreaded Caribbean had scored 32 last year, his highest being 35 in 2015.

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On the eve of the contest, the northern side had a practice session which the Sunrisers chose to skip. There was no word on whether Gayle had overcome the soreness that had ruled him out of the last game against Delhi Daredevils.

Ankit Rajpoot of Kings XI, who addressed the media, was non-committal on the towering West Indian. On Thursday’s match, the 24-year-old medium pacer, said his team would continue in the same vein as it had done thus far and not try anything new.