What a game to start off Season XI of the Indian Premier League! There was so much anticipation and hype in the build-up to the opening game that anything less than what we got at the Wankhede Stadium would have been an anti-climax. Chennai Super Kings’ victory over defending champions Mumbai Indians typified what the Twenty20 format in general, and the IPL in particular, stand for.
A rookie leg-spinner came out of nowhere and hijacked the attention. Mayank Markande will remember this night for a long time, bowling to such established superstars as Ambati Rayudu and M.S. Dhoni and even hoodwinking the latter. But it was Dwayne Bravo’s never-say-die spirit and Kedar Jadhav’s grit under great physical discomfort that carried the night for Chennai.
On their return after two years, the Super Kings pulled off one of the great coups in IPL history, thanks largely to the brilliance of Bravo whose six-hitting skills were a sight to behold. Also, for the first time, there was so much support for the visiting team in Mumbai, and I put that down entirely to the charismatic presence of ‘MS.’
We, at Sunrisers Hyderabad, have never been short of support at our base in Uppal. Our fans have stood by us through thick and thin, and been our unofficial 12th man, energetically driving us forward. We are thankful for their patronage, and as we gear up for our first game against Rajasthan Royals on Monday night, we will do our best to keep them happy and in good spirits.
Our preparations have been excellent despite the heavy rain in Hyderabad. We came away from the auction happy with our acquisitions, which make us a stronger, well-rounded side. Quite obviously, the loss of David Warner in unfortunate circumstances is a big blow, that is stating the obvious, but we feel that even so, we have the resources to mount a strong challenge. Kane Williamson is a wonderful batsman and an inspirational leader, and we are confident he will ensure a seamless transition.
The depth in our batting and the variety in our bowling means we have the luxury of playing different combinations depending on the conditions and the opposition without having to make compromises. Twenty20 cricket is all about momentum and getting on a roll. We have two matches in our backyard before we start travelling and as a group, we would love to get two wins under our belt so that we can carry that positive energy with us when we hit the road.