From a heady three-match winning streak, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) hit a trough in its last outing, slumping to defeat against Kings XI Punjab. Chennai Super Kings (CSK) lost to the same opposition a few days before. Backed by an army of fans at its second home in Pune, it righted that reversal though, showing rousing form on Friday to crush Rajasthan Royals.
With Chris Gayle and Shane Watson, the game changers for their teams in the aforementioned contests, the spotlight came to be fixed on the role of openers. Down the years, David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan were the demolition men for the Sunrisers, dismantling rival attacks with pulverizing powerplay performances.
On the eve of the CSK-SRH match at the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium, the tourists skipped practice. V.V.S. Laxman allayed apprehensions of the top order not firing. “In the last match we didn’t use the powerplay so well. It was unfortunate that Shikhar (Dhawan) got injured at the start.
“But if you see the previous three games, our opening batsmen gave a very good start. Twice we had more than 50 runs. Ideally if you have 45 to 50 runs in the six overs without losing wickets, maybe one, then you’ve used the powerplay properly. I don’t think powerplay is a problem for us."
Will Dhawan play tomorrow? “He has not come for practice. We are giving him another day to recover. Tomorrow we will have a fitness test, assess his situation and then take a call. The swelling has subsided but we want to give him one more day for proper rest," Laxman said.
Who will step up in Dhawan’s absence? “I think there are a lot of options and that’s a luxury we have. With the kind of players we’ve got in the squad there are various combinations we can explore. I’m hoping Shikhar will be fine.
“I know Shikhar very well. So even if there is pain, he will tolerate it and go out and play. Until and unless he’s 100 per cent convinced that he cannot contribute to the team he’ll never miss a game.
“But there are various players who can come and do the role. We’ve seen that in this season itself. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was injured and Sandeep Sharma came in and filled the role. Billy Stanlake was not fit in the last game against KXIP but Jordan came and did wonderfully well. So there are so many players who can fill in for others in the playing squad," he said.