The decision to appoint Shikhar Dhawan as captain of Sunrisers Hyderabad was made with the long term in mind, Krishnamachari Srikkanth said on Monday (September 16).
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Srikkanth, the former India captain who is now the chief mentor of the Hyderabad outfit, said it was every cricketer's dream to go on to lead his side. "As a player, you want to establish yourself and then slowly move up the ladder and become the captain. For any player, it's the same," said Srikkanth. "When you are appointed captain for a prestigious team during a prestigious tournament, it motivates the individual even more.
"The move to make Shikhar the captain was a management decision, taken by all of us together. We look forward to him being the leader for us in the coming years also, for the future of Sunrisers," added Srikkanth. "That is how we build the team too. Next year is the major auction, we will be building a new team. If we have a captain in Shikhar, that will help us a lot in forming and building a side around him and other big cricketers."
Terming Dhawan 'the key in every sense', Srikkanth went on, "He has been batting brilliantly. After the IPL, he won the Champions Trophy for us (India). He is also brimming with terrific confidence, just like the rest of the squad. The responsibility of captaincy will motivate him to perform even better. Shikhar is obviously the key in every sense - as a captain, as a leader, as an opening batsman. He is going to lead from the front, and he is confident of leading from the front. This is the same ground where Shikhar made his Test debut and made that huge 180-plus total, so he has very fond memories of this particular ground. Also, it was here that Amit Mishra made his debut against Australia, so there is a feel-good factor from that sense within the team."
In their first match on Tuesday night, Hyderabad will take on Kandurata Maroons, the Sri Lankan team which includes Kumar Sangakkara who was the designated Hyderabad captain during IPL VI. "Two of our boys will be in opposition teams here," said Srikkanth. "Sanga will be playing for the Sri Lankan team and Nathan McCullum for Otago. I think it is the individual's choice, who to play for. Sanga is an extraordinary cricketer, and he did very well for Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy. Yes, we have to work out tactics but we cannot reveal those strategies. I am sure he will also know a few of our tricks. It's a funny situation but both of us will have to face it."
Despite having the advantage of playing on home turf, Srikkanth said his team was braced for a tough challenge as it chased one of two qualifying slots. "Every match is very, very important. We don't take any match lightly. The return of JP Duminy is of great importance because he has been in terrific form. He has been out of action, but he is now not only back in action but back in form also. That strengthens our middle-order batting, and his little off-spinners are also a very good addition.
"We are playing the Sri Lankan team tomorrow. They are a good side, and they also have some international cricketers. As I said, we cannot take any team lightly. We have a very good combination and we are very happy with what we have. Overall, it is a fantastic feeling in the very first year of Sunrisers Hyderabad to be in the Champions League. It's a great achievement, and we want to keep it going. We have a long way to go."
Hyderabad relied heavily on their bowlers to get the job done in IPL VI, but Srikkanth expected more meaningful contributions from the batting group this time. "The bowlers did a brilliant job for us in the IPL. But now, with the addition of JP Duminy (who missed the IPL through injury), who is a very responsible and dependable cricketer and can anchor the team for us in the middle order, and with Shikhar also in form, it will help us. We are very confident that our batting will click, and if the combinations start clicking, we are a very good force to reckon with."