The IPL 2019 gateway for Steve Smith, David Warner

The IPL is a big platform for the comeback duo to claim a spot in the Australian team for the World Cup. With injury to Steve Smith, however, David Warner starts the tourney on a better note.

File Photo: David Warner (left) and Steve Smith have been away from elite-level cricket since March, 2018.   -  AP

For Steven Smith and David Warner, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is a big opportunity to return to top-flight cricket. Out of the national side for a year after being involved in the ball-tampering episode, both the Aussies have eyes set on World Cup selection.

With Kane Williamson suffering a back injury, Sunrisers Hyderabad will rely on Warner to bolster the batting. On the other hand, there is no clarity on whether Smith will be available for Rajasthan Royals’ opening encounter against Kings XI Punjab as he still recovering from an elbow injury.

Read | Sunrisers Hyderabad is my second home, says David Warner

“I spoke to Smith and Warner. Smith’s elbow is a lot worse than Warner’s and that might play particularly in selection early,” Dean Jones, the former Australian cricketer, said on Friday.

Jones, a Star Sports Select Dugout expert, believes that Warner starts the tournament on a better note. “Warner has come in with some good hundreds. I know it’s club cricket so that doesn’t really mean anything but a hundred is a hundred. It will be interesting to see how he fits in. There is a problem with Kane Williamson, with his back, so how he fits in there, will [Sunrisers] give captaincy to Warner again...we will have to wait and see for that. Is Smith in [Royals’] best team? That’s the big question,” Jones said.

'Rohit should open'

The other experts — former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara, former India captain Anil Kumble, and New Zealand’s Scott Styris — have agreed that Mumbai Indians captain, Rohit Sharma, should open the innings this season.

Rohit had revealed that he will bat at the top earlier this week, and the experts felt Rohit should stick to his decision.

“In my case, it is a yes. Rohit should open, without a doubt. Rohit Sharma should have opened last year and I’m very happy that he is opening this year,that gives Mumbai Indians and Rohit Sharma the best opportunity of scoring hundreds and winning games,” Sangakkara said.

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Kumble, who has been a Mumbai Indians coaching staff earlier, said: “Mumbai has always had this issue with Rohit (opening). When I was there with Mumbai (as a support staff), he batted at four, there was [an opportunity for him] to open the batting. But what Mumbai Indians and Rohit need to decide is if he decides to open, he needs to open for the rest of the tournament.”

He added: “Last year, he said the same thing, he wanted to open the innings, didn’t go well in the first couple of games and then he dropped down, and then again went and opened the batting and again dropped down. So if he decides to open, he should stay at that position and then play through.”

Earlier this week, Rohit Sharma had announced he will bat as an opener for the entire season. Photo: AFP

 

Styris said: “He is going to open and that is good for India. We know that for the World Cup [which is coming ahead]. He is such a champion there and I think we will see his skills; he is so good and he stands out anyway in this IPL.”

‘More interesting than election’

This season, the IPL has been overshadowed by the general elections, but Kumble hoped cricket will be at the forefront. “I am sure cricket will be more entertaining than the elections. That will certainly be a little bit of a distraction, not really a distraction, that’s something that all of us are looking forward to once in five years. [In] 2014, [it] was similar. [In] 2019, I am sure the cricket will be followed more closely because of the World Cup that is coming up as well,” he said.