SRH spinner all-rounder Washington Sundar.
Sanjay Manjrekar believes all-rounder Washington Sundar‘s injury and likely absence from SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH)‘s next two IPL 2022 matches is a “big blow” to the team. The former Indian batter feels SRH, despite their recent success, are at a must-win stage in the tournament and need to be at their full strength to make it to the playoffs.
Sundar looked in pristine form in the first four matches. He picked up two critical wickets each against the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and maintained a brilliant economy rate versus the Gujarat Titans (GT). He struggled with the ball in the first match against the Rajasthan Royals (RR), but made up for it with a 14-ball 40 on the batting front.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo on Thursday, Manjrekar said that although Sundar moves “a bit under the radar”, he contributes as per expectations. He explained:
“I think it’s a big blow to them. The next two matches are very important for all teams with regard to the playoffs because even if you don’t perform that well in the first two-three matches, it’s manageable. But now winning every match is very important. Washington Sundar goes a bit under the radar but he has bowled brilliantly throughout. In the last game, he gave away just 14 runs in three overs and you can expect more from his batting as well, he has the capability to fulfill them. So it’s a big, big blow.”
SRH have two experienced Karnataka spinners, leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal and left-arm tweaker Jagadeesha Suchith, who could replace Sundar for their clash against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Friday. Manjrekar believes that Kane Williamson and Co. will consider the left-handers in the opposition and go with the former. He said:
“I was just counting the left-handers in KKR. There’s Venky Iyer and Nitish Rana so when the opposition has two left-handers in the top-four, the captain thinks there’s no use for a left-arm spinner here… I think it’s unlikely Suchith will play.”
While Gopal has 48 wickets from as many IPL matches at an average of 25.98, Suchith has 12 scalps from 17 games in the competition at an average of 38.50. When it comes to filling Sundar’s shoes at No. 7, Suchith is a better choice as he has a knack for playing match-winning cameos and can be reliable with the bat in the lower order.
“Kane Williamson playing slow and steady in that team is manageable” – Sanjay Manjrekar
Manjrekar also spoke about SRH’s batting, which shot down 163 against the Titans with five balls to spare. Williamson anchored the chase with a 46-ball 57. The former batter said that despite Williamson’s low strike rate, it was a “good thing” that the New Zealand skipper returned amongst the runs.
Manjrekar added that SRH have enough power hitters to let their captain play his natural game. He elaborated:
“One good thing that happened in the last match was that Kane Williamson scored runs. It wasn’t a 220-run chase, nor there was any need for setting a big target. So it was a completely fitting role for him. And when class players return to form, they carry it forward. So yes, his strike rate was low, he took 46 balls to score 57, and it will be something to watch out for but he has enough hitters around him, like (Nicholas) Pooran, Abhishek Sharma because of the way he’s playing, or Tripathi who is in brilliant form. So I feel Kane Williamson playing slow and steady in that team is manageable.”
The SRH-KKR match will kickstart at 7:30 pm IST at the Brabourne Stadium. While Kolata are third with six points from five matches, Hyderabad are eighth, having collected four points from as many games.