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Sunrisers welcome Rajasthan Royals in absence of Australian stars

Posted April 9th, 2018, 10:57 AM IST

Sunrisers welcome Rajasthan Royals in absence of Australian stars

Hyderabad: Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals will open their IPL campaigns here on Monday but the focus will invariably be on two big missing stars — David Warner and Steve Smith — on either side.

While Warner has captained Hyderabad to the IPL title in 2016, Smith led Rising Pune Supergiant to the final last year before agonisingly losing the summit clash on the last ball at this very ground — the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium. Smith was also named Royals captain for this season before the recent ball-tampering scandal in South Africa and the resultant one-year ban imposed by Cricket Australia cost the irreplaceable Aussies places in their respective squads in the cash-rich league.




So it is men with clam demeanours — Kane Williamson and Ajinkya Rahane — who will lead the Sunrisers and Royals respectively, trying to bring in a fresh brand of leadership and attack.

In the absence of Warner, Kane’s first duty would be to pick an ideal, explosive, opening partner for Shikhar Dhawan to get the side off to a flying start as David would. Tough ask but then, the IPL is known to throw up unlikely heroes and the hosts hope there is one waiting in the Orange camp. Will that be Warner’s replacement Alex Hales, any of the Indian players in Manish Pandey or Yusuf Pathan, or one from the domestic lot?

Williamson and Wriddhiman Saha too will be counted upon to raise runs.Not so much worry in the bowling department though, with seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and perplexing spinner Rashid Khan leading the attack even as the formidable Shakib Al Hasan, Sandeep Sharma and Deepak Hooda play supporting roles.

In the Blue corner are gentle men. Jaydev Unadkat and Dhawal Kulkarni come across as those who cannot hurt anyone. It’s a different story with the cricket ball in hand though — they sure land lethal blows. Little wonder that the team owners broke the bank for the former at the auction.

Then there is big buy Ben Stokes who can swing it with both bat and ball. The home-grown K. Gowtham and Stuart Binny are expected to rally around him.
The batting department is manned by some strokemakers in D’Arcy Short, Jofra Archer, Heinrich Klaasen (who replaced Smith) and Rahane himself with Sanju Samson, Aryaman Birla and Shreyas Gopal playing second fiddle. At the top of the Blues band is their inaugural title-winning captain Shane Warne, back as mentor, as the Royals — staggering into the mix after two years — look to regain rhythm.

It should be quite a party at the RGICS unless a thunderstorm — as the weatherman predicts — crashes in.

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