In what is looking to be a tournament where the fate of teams will depend on how well their Indian players perform, Sunrisers Hyderabad look underdone in that category.
Yuvraj Singh was lost to injury before the tournament began. Just 13 balls into this IPL stint, a groin injury ruled out Ashish Nehra for at least a couple of games. The only other Indian player good enough to shoulder some burden without looking overwhelmed is Shikhar Dhawan.
Yet it looks like Dhawan is worse off than Yuvraj or Nehra, having left his form somewhere in Bangladesh where he had scored that Asia Cup final-winning 60. Since then it has been disappointment --- good starts thrown away or a meek surrender after plodding away fruitlessly. He managed to evade criticism during the World T20 but during the IPL, it might be difficult to ignore.
It’s early stages, but the Indian players are showing signs of adapting to the grind. Rohit Sharma is off to a great start, Virat Kohli has carried his World T20 form here, Ajinkya Rahane is making every chance count and even Suresh Raina has two crucial contributions to his name. With David Warner as opening partner, Dhawan shouldn’t be pressed by the need to fly off the handle from the first ball.
Sunrisers Hyderabad coach Tom Moody was ready to give Dhawan that time.
“He is keen for runs like any other batsman. He has been working very hard and he has been hitting the ball well in the nets so I am confident that it’s a matter of time he converts that hard work into a match-winning score for us. He is one person I guarantee who is not shy of hard work. He has done the hard yards and I’m sure a big score is around the corner,” said Moody ahead of the match against Kolkata Knight Riders in Kolkata on Saturday.
Dhawan could take a leaf out of Delhi mate Gautam Gambhir’s book. Despite not being in touch with international cricket, the KKR captain has showed exceptional character to anchor the batting of his side two matches in a row. Gambhir hasn’t given up on his habit of walking down the pitch occasionally to lift the bowler over midwicket, but otherwise sticks to ground shots and hard-run singles to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Dhawan has rarely looked to do that. In the absence of Yuvraj, only a solid innings at the top can give Sunrisers some flexibility in the later overs. Warner has done it once, but Dhawan is due for one of his specials.