Warner comeback a huge advantage, says Laxman

Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor V.V.S. Laxman called his franchise the most balanced unit for the mix of youth and experience, a strong middle-order and the return of David Warner.

Former India cricketer Laxman (extreme right) had a smooth transition, from a player to mentor, in Sunrisers Hyderabad.   -  FILE PHOTO/ V. GANESAN

 

“We have a luxury of four or five combinations as far playing eleven is concerned and we will pick the best for the given conditions,” said Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor V.V.S. Laxman in a chat ahead of IPL 2019.

Laxman said the presence of Indian players in all departments ensures flexibility, which is the key to the team’s success.

“We are looking [at the IPL] with a lot of positivity, we have been very consistent as a team, it is only once we didn’t qualify for the play-offs and have won the title once and a finalist last year,” he said.

Laxman stressed on starting the tournament on a high. “Once the team gels as a unit, it catches the momentum at the start of the tournament and then it will be a seamless journey into the final stages. We got lot of quality options for every skill-set,” he said.

On Warner’s comeback, the SRH mentor said that the Australian was overwhelmed by the affection which everyone showered on him in the last two days in the team. “It was never artificial, so natural for they all respect David for his contribution to the team’s success and also his world class reputation as a batsman. David’s comeback will be a huge advantage for us,” Laxman said.

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“David has been a wonderful leader and a brilliant batsman. It is just his presence in the dressing room that is a major plus and a great learning experience for the youngsters,” he said.

“Everyone knows what happened (regard to ball tampering controversy) which was not right. But, personally, I felt it was very harsh to keep them (David and Steve Smith) away from international cricket for one year. So, the best way for us is to welcome him back as naturally as we can,” Laxman said.

On Shikhar Dhawan switching to Delhi Capitals, the SRH mentor felt it was unfortunate as he had been a consistent performer. “Still, there is depth in batting and in SRH, we look at players who can rise to the occasion. Like last season when David was not available, everyone chipped in. The strength of the squad comes out when you look at the team as a group. We are proud as a unit,” Laxman said.

New Zealander Kane Williamson will be available for all matches and Shakib Al Hasan will miss some of the games due to national commitments.

Kane Williamson (left) and David Warner have been solid pillars for Sunrisers Hyderabad.   -  FILE PHOTO/K.V.S. GIRI

 

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“The other big challenge is for the players who are certain in the playing eleven and how they respond. To perform straight away in such situations is a major challenge,” he said.

The franchise also provides security to its players by playing them in as many games as possible. “We don’t want them to think about their position in the team but go out and play with freedom, win matches when they get the chances” he added.

Middle-order

Manish Pandey and Wriddhiman Saha’s form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy erases Laxman’s middle-order concerns. “Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan are very good finishers too. Saha is back after a decent Mushtaq Ali Trophy. We also have overseas players such as Mohammad Nabi and Shakib,” he said.

“The balance of the side is probably the best in the IPL. We have a lot of experience and youthful exuberance, like the exciting young all-rounder Abhishek Sharma.”

“There will be no clear favourites in the IPL as every side looks formidable with quality players, who are match-winners. Consistency is the key and it is important not to have a slump in the middle or at the fag-end of the season,” reasoned Laxman.

“Personally, it has been a very rewarding and relishing experience as a mentor. The transition from a player to mentorship has been smooth. I must compliment the owners for never interfering with the cricketing decisions, giving all the freedom to Tom Moody [head coach], Muralitharan [bowling coach] and I,” he said.

World Cup workload

Laxman said there are no restrictions as such, and that the players are smart to strike a balance.

“It is important to look after those who may have a chance in the World Cup. The players are so smart and professional that they take care of themselves, specially in crucial areas like recovery, thanks to the support staff,” he said.

“There is no directive from anyone to have less number of matches for a particular player. At some stage, we always plan differently; like pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who didn’t play all the games last season as we wanted the best to be fit mentally and physically for the decisive final phase. Each franchise has it’s own workload mechanism which helps the players.”