Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner is focusing on keeping himself in the right space mentally because “moving from one bio-bubble to another is quite a challenge”. Warner has just arrived in the UAE from the UK, where he was part of Australia’s limited-overs series against England.
“Bubble life is very challenging,” Warner said at his pre-IPL press conference. “It is the hardest thing not to have family with us due to restrictions. But these are unprecedented times due to Covid-19. The BCCI and the organisers have done a fantastic job by putting this up.
“Obviously the next few months will be challenging. In Australia, we can go out, play golf and drive a car. Hopefully, we can do some recreational stuff [here too]. But first and foremost is that the tournament gets going. It makes a difference.”
Captaincy aside, Warner led the run-charts at IPL 2019. His 692 runs in 12 innings came at a strike rate of 143.86. His opening partnerships with England’s Jonny Bairstow, the second-highest run-getter (445 runs at a strike rate of 157.24) for the Sunrisers, helped them get off the blocks quickly: two wins in their first three games.
In all those games, they put together century opening stands, with a best of 185 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore at home. This time around, they will open their campaign on Monday against the same opponents in Dubai.
Both Warner and Bairstow are coming off some cricket in England; both of them were part of their respective national squads for the recently-concluded limited-overs tour.
“It’s good to play alongside him,” Warner said. “We know each other’s game well. We have a good understanding like I have with Finchy [Aaron Finch] for Australia. Looking forward to good opening partnerships with him.”
One of the aspects Warner highlighted as the key to their fortunes is to have their middle order firing consistently. He wants them to be capable of sustaining an aggressive tempo even if wickets fall around them, a template that has been central to England’s limited-overs regeneration.
At the auction, they put together a young Indian core consisting Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, who led India at the Under-19 World Cup this year, and Abdul Samad, who comes with the reputation of being a big six-hitter. They also have the experience of Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar and Wriddhiman Saha to bank on.
“We did not give much of a chance to our middle order last time,” he said. “We will do our job at the top of the order, they should go out and bat freely. If wickets fall, [they should] try and put pressure back on the bowlers. Move forward; if you suck up balls, you won’t help anybody.”
Among bowlers, Warner has earmarked Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan as his key players. He thinks Khan, specifically, will benefit from having played a lot of cricket in UAE, where he often had to contend with a dewy ball.
Khan was their second-highest wicket-taker in the last IPL, with 17 scalps in 15 matches at an economy of 6.28. He’s also coming off a CPL season with Barbados Tridents. While it wasn’t his best season in terms of returns, his 11 wickets in ten games came at an economy of under seven per over.
“Bhuvi and Rashid are very experienced bowlers and are doing well,” he said. “Obviously upfront the new ball will swing here and in the middle, Rashid knows the wickets inside out, learning from bowling with the dew. He knows what to do when there is dew. Overall, we have got a balanced team.”
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