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When runs were hard to come and wickets were falling at regular intervals for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the crowd at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium thought that they would witness a Pune Warriors victory. Almost everything was going according to the script for the Pune Warriors. Their bowlers had done the job by restricting the Sunrisers for just 126, and their openers in their run chase looked cautious in their approach sticking to a game plan.
“Initially we just wanted to see Dale Steyn off as he is one of the key bowlers in their side and when we thought we could see him off, we could go after the other bowlers. But unfortunately Ishant Sharma’s fist over didn’t get us too many runs which put a bit of pressure on us. We did try to cover it up, but unfortunately couldn’t do it today.” explained Robin Uthappa who was the top scorer for his side with a patient 22 ball 24.”
Asked if scoring slowly in the first few overs of the match cost them the game, the hard hitting opening batsman said that one had to play according to the wickets on offer. “The wicket was a little two paced because of the rains a couple of days back. Some part of the wicket was hard; some of it was slightly softer, so when it hit the harder parts of the wickets it came on differently. One has to understand the nature of the wicket also when you are playing games like this. Our plan was to bat the twenty overs and we knew if we played to our potential in those twenty overs, we would get the target. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t do it today.”
Asked if the loss in the very first game of the tournament would affect the team’s morale, Uthappa insisted that the team would rather look at the positives from the game rather than thinking about what happened.
“I feel the bowling and fielding was top notch today. Our bowlers did a fantastic job in curtailing their batsmen for a low score and the energy on the field too was great. It’s just the first game of the tournament. There are still many games to go, so we need to take it one game at a time. I am sure that we as a unit will do well.”
There were some surprises and raised eye brows when Australian all rounder Steven Smith did not feature in the playing eleven. Smith had taken the previous edition of the IPL by storm with his batting abilities and electrifying fielding skills and one was left wondering why a utility player like Smith was left out of the squad to which Uthappa said, “With the kind of talent we have in the side, it is unfortunate that we can play only four internationals in the side, but with the combination and other aspects, the team management felt that we played the best eleven.”
On a personal front though, Uthappa was happy that he was hitting the ball well and looked forward to better performances in the future. “I have brought about some technical changes in my batting and at the moment it is working for me and I am happy the way I am batting right now,” Signed off Uthappa.
His all round capabilities are well known. When he has a bat in his hand he is in full flow and you can see the crowds running for cover in the stands. When he hits them, they do travel a fair distance. And when he bowls them with his subtle variations effectively, Thisara Perera culminates into one fine all rounder.
He has represented as many as 4 IPL teams in his short international career, with many other T20 leagues across the globe also gunning for him. Just goes to show what a useful left handed batsman and a more than handy bowler adds to a team’s plate.
This year, he was the Sunrisers’ biggest buy as he bagged a cool $675,000 in the 2013 IPL player auctions. “I was on tour at that time and didn’t even have an idea as to what was going on in the auctions. When I saw that I was picked by the Sunrisers Hyderabad, I was happy that my abilities were recognized and was ready for the challenge.” exclaimed Perera who was happy that his side had started on a winning note.
Earlier in the day, the going had been tough for SRH against the PWI as they could manage a paltry 126 in their twenty overs. Perera was the top scorer for his side with a blazing 18 ball 30 which included three fours and a six.
Not many would have given the home team a chance in defending the low total, but Perera got his team right back into the game getting the crucial wicket of opener Robin Uthappa and Marlon Samuels. Perera was not done yet, his reflexes were also put to test as he affected a run out off his own bowling in the eighteenth over of the match, which pretty much sealed the game for the Sunrisers.
With 126 runs on the board, Perera said that the team had the belief to defend the low total. “It was a good wicket to bowl on. We always knew that 126 could be defended if we stuck to our game plan. This kind of wicket suited my bowling and I am really happy that it paid off.”
Perera indeed was a happy man. He couldn’t get the grin off his face after a statement making performance. The all rounder said, he was high on confidence as he had come into the tournament with a lot of match practice behind him. “I was always in a good frame of mind when I came over here. I had played a lot of other T20 leagues over the past few months and was bowling on different kind of wickets. Bowling under different conditions and different circumstances helped me perform today.”