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Prajakta Pawar in Delhi 11 April 2013 - 10:25pm IST

Laxman advices wards not get overawed by opposition

Sunrisers mentor says they concentrate on their own game

Sunrisers Hyderabad have caused a few flutters with their performances in Pepsi IPL 2013. Although they go into the match against Delhi Daredevils with a loss they will be drawing on confidence from their two victories earlier in the tournament.

Ahead of their match at the Feroz Shah Kotla, team mentor, former India cricketer VVS Laxman addressed the media and reflected on the team’s prospects and composition.

Asked of the impending game, Laxman told the media, “We are very pleased with the way we started the tournament, winning two games especially against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Hyderabad where it went into the super over. When you win such tight matches it always gives a lot of confidence to the team. In the last match in Bangalore (which the Sunrisers lost) Virat Kohli played a superb knock.”

“We like to concentrate on our game. We don’t think about what Delhi has done in the last few matches. We just want to improve on our own performances. We got a very good side and the combination is excellent with good experienced players and some talented youngsters in the side. We just want to focus on our game and if we can do that I think we will make a mark tomorrow,” he added. 

One of the talented youngsters in the side is Hanuma Vihari who played a match winning knock against RCB in Hyderabad. Impressed by the youngster Laxman said, “Vihari is a very good player. He was with India Under 19 team when they won the (Under-19, 2012) World Cup and the maturity he showed in the second game where he played a very important knock on a tough wicket. I think you want to see those kind of knocks from youngsters and yes very best wishes to him.”

Asked if batting was an area of concern for the team, Laxman replied, “I think that the first two games we played on tough batting conditions. If you see, the opposition was not even able to finish. In Bangalore, our third game, we scored 161 runs which is very good.”

“Bowling is definitely our strength without a doubt. We have got the best bowler in world cricket in our side. Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra are bowling well and then you have Thisara Perera, Ashish Reddy who can support them. So bowling is definitely the formidable side to our team but having said that we have got some talented batsman who can win matches on their own. So I think it will be good to see them also realising their potential like the way we did in Bangalore.”

Discussing the team further and the mood in the side he mentioned, “I think the team bonding is excellent. Especially in a tournament like IPL it is critical because you have got players from different parts of the world coming together and playing as a team. So it is important that each one understands his colleague and gels well. The team environment is very good, the support staff is making sure that it is a great team environment where each one enjoys their cricket and I think that’s very important and we are really focusing on doing.”

Laxman, who has been India’s man in a crisis for a long time, said that he advises the youngsters not to be intimidated by the opposition and challenges of maybe facing someone like a Virender Sehwag. “There is no doubt that Sehwag is a dangerous player in all formats of the game and against any opposition he is a dangerous player and we have to accept that. But as a batsman or bowler you are always going to do what you are best at irrespective of the batsman you are bowling or bowler you are facing. I think that’s going to be the case with our players tomorrow. I tell them to bowl to their strength and believe in themselves which is very important. Not to get overawed by the opposition players they are playing against.”

Speaking about Kumar Sangakkara’s leadership, Laxman observed, “He is definitely very positive. He would like to get more runs. We know he is not only the best batsman in the team he is one of the best batsman in world cricket. He has been very good as a leader till now and that is so important. Good, exceptional leaders don’t really carry their skill as a batsman or as a bowler in to their leadership. I think that is very important and Kumar has exhibited that in the three matches. And he has led from the front even though he is not amongst runs. The kind of encouragement he is giving to the youngsters and getting the best out of each and every individual, I think he has been brilliant as a captain till now.”
Discussing the top-order further and missing Shikhar Dhawan he said, “Firstly, yes Shikhar was in tremendous form last year. His debut in Mohali was exceptional. So I think he is going to be a major contributor to our team once he comes back. Having said that, Parthiv (Patel) and Akshath (Reddy) have done well (at the top of the order). They played on wickets that were not conducive for stroke play and they had decent partnerships. They would love to convert those starts into big scores which I am hoping will happen tomorrow.”

Giving insight into his own role as mentor, a cloak that he has donned for the first time, Laxman stated, “It is a new role as far as the designation is concerned, as a mentor. I am playing the role for the first time but I have always done this even as a senior player. I have always thought of sharing my experiences with the youngsters. I have learnt a lot from my seniors. Sharing various situations that you were part of and what your thought process was at that point of time. How to handle various situations and how you handle playing top players and how you react to various conditions and situations etc. I think it is great. As a player I was very lucky that the youngsters were receptive to what I told them. It’s always a discussion; it is not that you are dictator. You share certain things about the game and if a youngster can benefit from it, good for them.”

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