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The Sunrisers Hyderabad have not had the best of starts this season. They are reeling in the bottom half of the table, and they now face an uphill task to make it to the business end of the tournament. Kris Srikkanth, mentor of the Sunrisers Hyderabad, knows it is a do-or-die situation for his team as they prepare to face the Rajasthan Royals on Thursday. He feels that SRH now need to get their act together to make it to the final four. “This is a crucial match against the Rajasthan Royals and I am sure Ahmedabad will prove to be lucky for the Sunrisers Hyderabad,” Srikkanth said.
“The lower half of the points table is pretty cluttered and every match from now on is going to be important for every team. For us, the best way is to keep winning – something that we did the last time around and booked a place in the final four. We will have to go and play our natural game and try and beat everyone. We have to play to the best of our capacity. We have had some close encounters in our previous fixtures and it is time to get into the winning habit.”
While the Rajasthan Royals have been on a roll, winning their last four games, the Sunrisers Hyderabad have not been in the best of forms. They lost their previous match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore and would want to get back to winning ways before they play their home games in Hyderabad. “Every win and every loss is going to matter. We still have four more home games left and we take that as an advantage,” Srikkanth said.
The Royals would be aware of the conditions in their new home venue after playing against the Kolkata Knight Riders there. The Sunrisers, as Srikkanth said, did not get an opportunity to have a look at the wicket. “We haven’t had a look at the wicket since it is fully covered, but we have to play and win on whatever conditions are on offer.”
Srikkanth, however, noted that one of the new additions to their bowling attack this year could make a difference in alien conditions. “Bhuvneshwar Kumar is a brilliant bowler and does not rely on wicket conditions. He is someone who can bowl on any surface. He has a good seam position and release that keep the batsmen guessing.”
And despite the losses so far in IPL 2014, Srikkanth said that his team was in high spirits and positive ahead of the clash against RR. “The one good thing is that the team is very buoyant and confident of doing well and qualifying. We at Sunrisers Hyderabad believe in remaining positive.”
The Rajasthan Royals braced themselves for a range of questions during a media interaction at Ahemdabad on Wednesday. During the course of the Q&A, RR mentor Rahul Dravid, captain Shane Watson and a few others spoke about the team’s bond and willingness to nurture young talent in the IPL. Watson thanked the team for giving him the chance to lead the side and learn a lot more about the game.
"I loved it when I was given the opportunity to become captain of the Rajasthan Royals, and it is an honour to lead a side that is full of young talent. It is a big learning environment and I am learning from some of the best players of the game, like Rahul, who knows how to get the best out of every player. The best thing about our team is that we don't have many coaches, like one for batting, one for fielding, one for bowling, etc. The Royals have an environment that helps players grow and get better.”
When asked if the team likes its new home venue, Watson replied, “We have had an amazing time in Jaipur, but we are making our home base here in Ahmedabad. The crowd was amazing the other day and we had good support. It is our duty to play the brand of cricket that the public enjoys, and hopefully, by the last game here, we will get a huge amount of support by playing the kind of cricket they want to watch.”
Meanwhile, Rahul Dravid was also hoping for support from the local fans. "Ahmedabad has always proved lucky for RR in the past. We have a good record here and the fans here are equally passionate about the game. I am sure that local fans will see RR as their own team as Ahmedabad doesn't have their own team in the IPL. I hope that fans will support us in the upcoming games."
Dravid also reserved some special praise for Pravin Tambe, whose story is nothing short of a fairytale. “Pravin Tambe has spent close to 20 years playing cricket without getting recognition or glory. To see his success is phenomenal not only because it is a great story, but also because of the person he is. He has been a great inspiration for a lot of us in the team. The way he goes about his business even at this age is brilliant. Even at this age, he is willing to learn and it is good to see him play the way he does for us. He is an integral part of our team.”
Rajasthan Royals are now placed third in the points table, but for them it is the attitude of their players that matters more than results. “We are at the halfway stage and it is a good position to be in. We have played good cricket, we have won some close games and the team has shown the fighting spirit that we are known for. That is the heartening thing to see, that kind of attitude, irrespective of results, in all the seven games,” Dravid said.