It will be a clash of titans — individually at least — when the new franchisee Sunrisers Hyderabad (SH) takes on Pune Warriors India (PWI) in its IPL opener at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium under lights here on Friday.
The fans are in for a treat of world-class fast bowling, in the form of Sunrisers’ Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma, against a line-up of explosive stroke-makers like Yuvraj Singh, Ross Taylor, Marlon Samuels, Steve Smith and the PWI captain Angelo Mathews himself.
Interestingly, the first match for both teams will also provide a test of strategy between the two bowling coaches — who were fast bowling greats in their heyday — Waqar Younis (Sunrisers) and Allan Donald (Warriors).
The match should also give a hint of what is to come for the two teams since both have a pool of domestic players who can rise to the occasion.
But, what can be a cause for worry for Sunrisers will be the absence of the injured Shikhar Dhawan, the leading scorer for the then Deccan Chargers in the last edition, and South African Jean-Paul Duminy (ruled out for the entire event).
So the onus in batting will shift to the likes of captain Kumara Sangakkara, Cameron White and 20-year-old wicket-keeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, who is coming into this IPL after notching up the highest individual score of 126 by a South African in a T20 game recently.
The Pune outfit can be dangerous for it has some outstanding players who can make the opponent look very ordinary. In bowling, a lot is expected from the new find Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has the company of Ashok Dinda, Alphonse Thomas, Wayne Parnell and Kane Richardson in fast bowling.
It will be interesting to see whether the Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis can rediscover his old ‘magic’.
The strong-point could be the presence of all-rounders like Yuvraj, Abhishek Nayar and Mathews.
The Teams (from):
Sunrisers Hyderabad: K Sangakkara (Captain), Akshat Reddy, Amit Mishra, Anand Rajan, Ankit Sharrma, Ashish Reddy, Biplab Samantray, Cameron White, Chris Lynn, Dale Steyn, Darren Sammy, DB Ravi Teja, Hanuma Vihari, Ishant Sharma, Nathan McCullum, Parthiv Patel, Prasant Padmanabhan, Quinton deKock, Sachin Rana, Shikhar Dhawan, Sudeep Tyagi, Thalaivan Sargunam, Thisara Perera and Veer Pratap Singh.
Pune Warriors: Angelo Mathews (Captain), Abhishek Nayar, Ajanta Mendis, Ali Murtaza, Anustup Mazumdar, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dheeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Harpreet Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Kane Richardson, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Luke Wright, Mahesh Rawat, Manish Pandey, Marlon Samuels, Mitchell Marsh, Mithun Manhas, Parveez Rasool, Rahul Sharma, R Gomez, Robin Uthappa, Ross Taylor, Shrikant Wagh, Steve Smith, T Suman, Tamim Iqbal, Udit Birla, Wayne and Yuvraj Singh.