Of all behind-the-scenes challenges of managing an Indian Premier League side and driving it towards success, locking in the best playing XI all through the two-month period could be one of the toughest. To be able to determine when players deserve a long rope and when they need to be replaced is no mean feat, as superstar owners hope for glory each year.
While form and fitness is key to any decision-making, the think-tank also need to factor in conditions and the position of the team in the league, something that determines whether they can risk a punt or the need to stick by a safe option and hope for the best. And then there is the complexity of sometimes needing to tinker with a winning combination, that may turn fortunes, for better or worse.
As Sunrisers Hyderabad bask in their brief run of form, a tricky situation awaits them. Despite the absence of Yuvraj Singh from the start of the tournament and Ashish Nehra since midway through their opening fixture against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Hyderabad franchise has managed to secure back-to-back victories. With Nehra nearing his full fitness and Yuvraj too not far away, the predicament of altering the current combination arises.
Does three successive wins mean Nehra and Yuvraj wait in the wings for a couple of players to perform poorly? Or does their reputation earn them a spot each in the line-up straightaway? Warner sat on the fence when asked how he’d draft them in, but offered sound reasoning as to why they would perhaps be picked immediately.
“That’s (Nehra and Yuvraj’s selection) up to the guys who control the team selection. I don’t have a big say in it. I just trust their instinct. They are two world-class players. Nehra has been in exceptional form. He’s been swinging the ball upfront. He was in our No. 1 team, so it’s going to be very hard to leave him out,” Warner said on Saturday(April 24).
Based on recent form, Nehra warrants a spot in the side but the fact that Barinder Sran, the young left-arm pacer, has lived up to his skipper’s expectations in the senior statesman’s absence complicates the situation. Warner hasn’t stopped short of praising Sran in each of his post-match press conferences so far, with the 23-year-old accounting for four wickets in as many outings and ensuring he doesn’t end up being a weak-link in a side that is reliant heavily on its bowling.
That Nehra was bowling at near full-tilt in the practice session ahead of Saturday’s game against Kings XI Punjab will crank up the pressure on Sran.
“He (Nehra) looks like he is bowling okay. He is doing some of his normal stuff and I think he’s going to come down and have a bowl either tomorrow or day after, but he says he will wait and see,” Warner said.
As for Yuvraj, the return date could be a little further away. The flamboyant batsman, who stated that he should be fit and ready to go for Sunrisers’ home game against Gujarat Lions on May 6, could also be very hard to bench, reckoned Warner.
“Yuvi is Yuvi, it’s going to be very hard to leave him out. I am pretty sure the guys will select the appropriate team that is needed when both are fit and when required.
“I am not sure (of Yuvraj’s return date). I think he said maybe the 6th. We have to see how he goes. If he feels fit then obviously the selectors will definitely probably pick him. Hard man to leave out,” Warner said, with a chuckle.
Yuvraj’s impending return could mean that Aditya Tare is living on borrowed time, and unless there are significant performances from him between now and the game against Gujarat Lions, he is most-likely to make way.