Sunrisers Hyderabad received a massive boost ahead of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 as opener David Warner rejoined the squad after not playing the tournament in 2018 as a result of a year-long ban in the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal during Australia’s South Africa tour last year.
The Aussie announced his return in style as he slammed a brilliant half century against Kolkata Knight Riders in his team’s opening game of the campaign. SRH might have lost the match but Warner’s knock garnered praise from experts and fans alike. Warner looked quite comfortable against the KKR bowlers and he was unfortunate to miss out on a century as he was dismissed for 85 off 53 balls.
Sandeep Sharma, the 25-year-old fast bowler who joined Sunrisers in 2018, played with Warner for the first time this season and the Punjab cricketer made it clear that his teammates or the support staff are not treating Warner any differently because of the ball-tampering controversy.
“It is great to have David Warner back in the team. Everyone knows how good he is and it is brilliant to have him in the dressing room. He has been a great performer for Sunrisers in the past seasons and in the last match, he showed once again why he is regarded so highly in white ball cricket,” Sharma told the Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview.
“We are not thinking about what happened last year and we are not treating him any differently. Nothing has changed for him or for any of us in the team,” he added.
The innings from Warner and a late onslaught from Vijay Shankar took SRH to a competitive total of 181/3 in 20 overs and KKR were under considerable pressure in their chase. With 53 runs needed from the last three overs, SRH were seemed in control of the game but an unbeaten 49 off 19 balls from the broad blade of Andre Russell ensured KKR chased the target down with two balls to spare.
On the personal front, it was not a good outing for Sharma, who despite taking the important wicket of Robin Uthappa, ended up conceding 42 runs in four overs. When asked about the last match, Sandeep praised Russell for taking the game away from them but said that they have learnt from their mistakes.
“Personally, it was not that great. It was the first game of the season and as a result, the nerves were there and it was showing in our performance. Things did not really go our way. But, we reflected on our mistakes and we will be looking to execute our plans better in the upcoming matches.
“I don’t think things went wrong for us. We know how amazing a batsman Andre Russell is but you won’t see an innings like that everyday. We played well but he took the match away from us,” he said.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad squad boasts of a number of quality pace options and with the bowling not firing quite well against KKR, it is a possibility that the team management might opt for Khaleel Ahmed or Basil Thampi for their next match against Rajasthan Royals. But Sandeep is not worried about the competition in the team and he believes that it will help all of them raise their standards.
“I think that the competition is a good thing for all of us. When you have so many good bowlers in the same squad, your standard goes higher and that is also great news for the team,” he said.
Sharma is no stranger to the IPL. The 25-year-old fast bowler has been a part of the competition since 2013 and with 84 wickets from 69 matches, he has been a consistent performer against some of the best batsmen in the world. When asked about the toughest batsmen he has faced in the tournament, he said that the answer varies according to the situation of the game.
“When it comes to the new ball, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli. With the old ball, the toughest batsmen I have played against are MS Dhoni and AB De Villiers,” he concluded.
Sunrisers Hyderabad take on Rajasthan Royals on Friday at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.