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A new look to the team, new coaching staff, two experienced Men as mentors in VVS Laxman and Kris Srikkanth and the Sunrisers Hyderabad look to flag off their IPL campaign on a positive note.
The team looked upbeat at the practice session at their home ground as the domestic players went about practicing their flurry of strokes before their first game in the tournament.
Their captain Kumar Sangakkara looked crisp in his footwork at the nets as he displayed his picturesque cover drive to his Sunrisers teammates on a sunny Thursday evening.
Not surprisingly, their chief coach Tom Moody was in a positive frame of mind as he said, “The atmosphere amongst the playing group is really good. We are very comfortable with the squad we have, both domestically and internationally. We have prepared well and we feel confident going to the first challenge.”
The Sunrisers have a lot of young domestic players in the squad who will be itching to go out and give it their best. For Coach Moody, the message to his youngsters was simple: ‘Enjoy the game’.
“The players are here to learn the game and perform at their best. The local players do not have enough exposure, whether they are playing in front of big crowds or whether it’s playing against Test stars, but it is a wonderful experience and I just encourage all my young players to just go and have fun; because at the end of the day, it is very important to express yourself. “
Meanwhile a jovial Kris Srikkanth who accompanied Moody to address the press said that he was enjoying his stint as one of the mentors of the side.
“For me it is a great experience to be a mentor of the side. It is nice to talk to these boys and give them some tips as to what to do and what not to do. I have always believed, cricket is a team game and we are gelling well together. We have got a lot of domestic talent and good international players. Tom is doing a great job with the team and giving them the necessary advices.”
Talking of advices, the team certainly seems to be benefiting from advices coming out of Waqar Younis, who is the bowling consultant for the Sunrisers.
The Sunrisers, have in their squad arguably the best fast bowler in world cricket at the moment: Dale Steyn. Add a former Pakistani great to a Steyn; that would make for a lethal combination to which Moody said, “It would have been nice to see Waqar and Steyn bowling at their peak together isn’t it? Waqar has a wealth of experience and not only the domestic players; even Dale Steyn is excited about working with Someone like Waqar. If we can create that environment where it is a learning environment, where even the best fast bowler in the world is prepared to sit in the classroom and be a part of that learning, it is very good. “
Asked if the new franchise had a primary goal in the tournament, Srikkanth was quick to point out, “Every team has a goal in the tournament. Sunrisers Hyderabad will look to be amongst the top four. That is our primary goal and we are confident we will do it. We are a new franchise and we would like to make a big impact in this year’s IPL.”
A young Sri Lankan, a young all rounder, a young captain of his Country’s Test and ODI national side; and now a captain for his IPL franchise. With so many roles vested upon a 25-year-old in such a short span of time, one wonders if Angelo Matthews’ shoulders are made of steel.
The moment an injured Michael Clarke was ruled out of the IPL this season for the Pune Warriors owing to a back injury, the mantle of captaincy was passed on to Angelo Mathews who will be captaining an IPL side for the first time in his four year IPL career.
Leading Sri Lanka and now leading the Pune Warriors in the IPL, one had to ask how he coped with so much of responsibility in such a short while.
“As a player you’ve got to adapt to the challenges that come your way. As a professional cricketer, you will face a lot of challenges in a different way throughout your cricketing career. You need to try and adapt to those challenges as quickly as possible.” replied a confident Mathews.
A big assignment for Mathews on the personal front, who looked positive of his team’s future ahead of their first match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. “I am extremely excited to be the captain of the Pune Warriors India. We have got a young and promising team on our hands and we as a unit are looking forward to win the first game.”
Pune finished with the wooden spoon last year, and their best result in the two editions they have been a part of; has been a second last position in 2011. The Pune Warriors captain looked to focus on the present rather than dwelling on the past results.
“It is going to be a fresh start, past it past and you’ve got to look forward to the future and I believe we have a great team and we will try to be at our best and be in the competition. We have to take it one step at a time and try and focus on our games and the way we play,” explained Mathews.
“It’s all about momentum in this format. We started off brilliantly in the last two editions, but unfortunately we couldn’t keep that momentum going. We will have to look at taking each game as it comes and try and be focused on the results of those games.”
The Pune Warriors camp was seen doing their regular drills at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Hyderabad on Thursday. The batsmen got their regular throw downs, the likes of Steve Smith and Marlon Samuels honed their fielding skills even as the rest of the team looked in good stead.
Mathews was happy he had a fit side at his disposal and a quality one at that. “We have got a whole heap of international players as well as the domestic players. So we are in a position were we can pick our best eleven. Yuvraj Singh is completely fit and he is going to be a major part of our squad in tomorrow’s game”.