Dubai: Nearly four and-a-half minutes of VVS Laxman off the pitch magic. That’s the dose of what the Sunrisers Hyderabad players got from a ‘Very, Very Special’ player during their practice session at the ICC Academy ground late on Monday.
Directing the session from his perch at the non-striker’s end in place of the umpire, the SRH mentor Laxman was heard offering his point of view as the bowlers had a go at the batsmen during the session.
‘Under the watchful eyes of VVS Laxman,’ read the headline of the video posted on the SRH official social media platform.
The Sunrisers are coached by 2019 ICC World Cup winning Trevor Bayliss with Brad Haddin as his assistant while former record-holder Muttiah Muralitharan is the bowling coach. David Warner, who will be joining the squad after the last England vs Australia one-dayer on Wednesday, is the captain.
“Let’s organise the balls first,” Laxman was heard telling the players as the young Virat Singh takes guard at the crease.
“Nice one Thampi,” he compliments as Basil Thampi bowls and is dispatched in the long-off region by Singh.
“Good kid?” Laxman is heard asking Thampi.
“Yeah, very good. Studious, very kind,” says the bowler. “The last two balls were excellent. One went over extra cover and one went to the boundary. Very nice,” Laxman is heard expressing his delight.
It’s ace bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s turn next. As he turns back to his mark, Laxman starts assessing the wicket with the Indian seamer. “Little spongy, the bounce?” he asks. “Thick grass cover,” he adds as Bhuvneshwar mentions that the ball “is swinging nicely”.
By now, the hard-hitting Manish Pandey is at the crease. Laxman is expressive and lavish in his praise for the right-handed batsman who was picked up by the SRH management in 2018. Pandey had opened for his former IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore and became the first Indian player to score a century in the IPL during the 2009 edition.
“Good shot. Excellent strike. Lovely Manish,” Laxman comments as he calls the batsman over to him at the non-striker’s end and advises him to “play a wee bit early and off the pads” to be more effective. “You’ve got to play to your strengths,” he advises the batsman who turned 31 last week.
Next at the crease is New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, who resorts to some hefty hits and deservingly gets the accolades from one of India’s finest middle order batsmen. And then a beauty from Billy Stanlake shatters his stumps, to which Laxman is heard: “lovely length man”.
“On this type of wicket, your shots should be your strength. You’ve got to make the space and hit. It’s better to move a bit on the leg side and give yourself the space as there is the odd bounce on the wicket,” Laxman advises.
It is then the turn of the 19-year-old Priyam Garg as the crease the first delivery faced is dispatched with a lovely hook to the leg side boundary. “Ahh, ahh, ahh, ahh. Yeah Priyam, this one,” Laxman is heard applauding the teenager.
“It’s a lot like a Test match wicket. It’s oldish,” Laxman says as he asks the bowler to bowl the last three deliveries of the session.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad will be joined by another two of their overseas players – Afghanistan duo of Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan – later during the week before they face the Royal Challengers Bangalore next Monday (September 21).