Sri Lanka star Kumar Sangakkara, the common factor between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kandurata Maroons, may well make the difference when the two sides meet in the Champions League Twenty20 qualifier at the PCA stadium on Tuesday.
Sangakkara led the Hyderabad side in this year’s IPL but opted to play for his home side Maroons after being put in a tight spot by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC); the board turned his decision to opt for a franchise of his choice into a country versus money debate, bringing him under pressure not to play for Sunrisers.
The former Sri Lanka skipper knows these parts pretty well: After all, he plied his IPL trade here, first with Kings XI Punjab and then with Deccan Chargers before the latter was replaced by Sunrisers this year. His knowledge about the Hyderabad team’s strengths and weaknesses should come in handy on Tuesday, which was also acknowledged by Maroons skipper Lahiru Thirimanne.
“His presence is a real privilege to our team. He plays for the Sunrisers and knows what each player in their squad is capable of,” Thirimanne said, exuding confidence that his team has the right mix of international players and domestic talent to take on any challenge. “We are a young team but some of our players are very experienced and that makes for a very good combination.”
Maroons boast of Sri Lanka players like spinners Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath and all-rounder Nuwan Kulasekara, but it will be the former national skipper with the wealth of experience gained from his 117 Tests and 354 ODIs whom they will turn to.
The importance of losing a player of Sangakkara’s stature is not lost on Hyderabad coach Tom Moody. However, he insisted that his side has the players to cope up with it. Ishant Sharma backed Sangakkara’s decision to play for his home club. “Its fine that he has chosen his country over club. We will surely miss him but at the same time, I would insist we have quality players in the squad,” the India pacer said.
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