VVS Laxman to WION: IPL biggest game-changer for Indian cricket

Written By: Digvijay Singh Deo WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Apr 08, 2021, 06:30 PM(IST)

VVS Laxman to WION: Delhi Capitals captaincy will help Rishabh Pant reach his potential Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor and one of the legends of the game, VVS Laxman, in an exclusive interview with WION’s Sports Editor, Digvijay Singh Deo, talked about the SRH squad, bio-bubbles, the role IPL has played in the growth of Indian cricket and much more.

Sunrisers Hyderabad have always punched above their weights when it comes to performing in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Showing sheer consistency, teamwork and hunger to win matches, Sunrisers Hyderabad are hailed as one of the most consistent sides in the history of IPL. However, they last won the coveted trophy in the year 2016 and since then, the ultimate glory has been evading the Hyderabad franchise.

Ahead of the IPL 2021, Sunrisers Hyderabad bolstered their squad at the auction table without tinkering with their core players. SRH added the likes Kedar Jadhav, J Suchith and Mujeeb ur Rahman to their team while replacing Mitchell Marsh, who pulled out at the last moment, with Jason Roy, as they eye another season of glory in India’s cricket carnival – the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League.

Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor and one of the legends of the game, VVS Laxman, in an exclusive interview with WION’s Sports Editor, Digvijay Singh Deo, talked about the SRH squad, bio-bubbles, the role IPL has played in the growth of Indian cricket and much more.

 

SRH headed into the IPL 2021 auction with just INR 10.75 crore. With a small purse at a mini-auction, the Hyderabad outfit made some shrewd picks while roping in the likes of experienced Indian all-rounder Kedar Jadhav, Afghanistan’s mystery spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman and left-arm spinner Jagadeesha Suchit. They later had another addition in Jason Roy after Mitchell Marsh pulled out of the tournament due to personal reasons.

Laxman believes SRH have a perfect blend of youth and experience, well capable of setting the stage on fire. While saying Hyderabad have got all the bases covered, Laxman added that they have a variety of players who can perform in different conditions on offer in India.

“It was a very quiet auction for us because we just required to pick up the players because we already had 22 in our squad. And because we knew that the tournament was going to happen in India in the summer, well, there will be a lot of help for the spinners and Mujeeb is an exceptional talent and also we got Suchit. Kedar Jadhav, he bolsters our middle order with his experience, batting for so many times in the IPL and also for India and winning matches,” Laxman told WION in an exclusive interview.

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“But overall, we are very happy and confident that we've covered all the bases and that's one of the important aspects a franchise takes into account at the start of the. I think that's why we are very happy that we've covered all the bases While there are a lot of experienced international players in our squad, but there are also a lot of talented players who just showcased their talent in the last year's IPL but I feel that they are much more mature, they're much more experienced compared to last year. And I'm sure that they will also set the stage on fire and I believe that we've got a lot of options at our disposal is just about playing the best combination against a particular opposition and in a particular condition. And then just playing to our potential if we do that, I'm sure the results will go in our favour,” the former Indian batsman, who has more than 10,000 runs for India in Tests and ODIs, explained.

VVS Laxman

But how tricky was the task at the auction table when franchises were unaware of the venues and conditions that will be on offer during the IPL? Laxman feels despite all the challenges, Sunrisers Hyderabad have a plethora of options and variety available at their helm. With matches in Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru, the former Indian batsman feels Hyderabad have all the ingredients to win the battle of match-ups and create their playing XIs based on who they are playing against in the IPL.

“You pick a squad where you can go and perform in various conditions. It's not that you pick a sport only to suit your home condition. And I think that that's where we are very confident because the options are available in both batting and bowling department, which can perform in various condition. We're going to play in four venues starting with Chennai, then Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. And I believe that they got various options and various combination for these four venues.

“It depends which team you're playing against because in T20 cricket, I believe, that matchup play a big part. While we don't want to create insecurity in the minds of our players, because we are one team that gives a long rope to whichever player is invested in. But I think matchups play a very important and integral part of T20. Cricket so based on the opposition you're playing against, I think we got enough options in our squad you know, to challenge them. So overall we are very happy that we have covered all the bases irrespective of which when you are going to play the match on or which conditions we're going to confront we are very confident that they got enough players who can perform in those conditions,” Laxman explained.

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The last six months have been a roller-coaster ride when it comes to Indian cricket. Starting from IPL 2020 in the UAE to the tour of Australia and then hosting England for full-fledged tour, players involved in all three events have been part of the bio-secure bubble for months while being able to spend just a few days with families in the six-month time frame. The debate surrounding mental health have picked up and Laxman feels while it is extremely tough for athletes to stay inside bubbles for months, it is like a sacrifice to do be able to live your dream.

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“It was quite tough and challenging, while I was part of the bubble in UAE, during the IPL 2020. But it's crazy for the Indian team and other international teams and other sports as well, you know, because it's never easy to stay in a bubble. And the Indian team players who play all the formats have been in bubbles since August, last year, till now, you know, at the end of the England series, and now they will be joining the franchise for the IPL. I think it's definitely a tough ask from each and every individual,” Laxman quipped.

“But I think this is the new normal ways to be safe. If you have to continue to do what you love the most, which is play the sport. I think you have to be part of the bubble level because it's safe for all the stakeholders, but it's a lot of sacrifices, especially players who have their families who have young family have to make a huge sacrifice. But I think they are ready to do that because they love what they're doing. And they are professionals,” the SRH mentor added.

VVS Laxman

While the Indian team scripted history in Australia and also won across formats against England at home, the emergence of young players and their ability to win matches for the country have left the cricketing world in awe. Laxman said it is due to the exposure in IPL that the youngsters are so confident when they play for India and against world-beaters.

The story of SRH pacer Thangarasu Natarajan makes the sport special but the way the likes of Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur among others have performed in the last six months, credit was automatically given to the IPL and strong roots of Indian cricket and the Rahul Dravid-led NCA.

“IPL is a tournament which gives the opportunity to talented players, gives an opportunity for a youngster to realize their dream. As a Sunrisers mentor and as a franchise, we are very proud whenever a player maximizes his potential in the last season. It was a Natarajan who went on to realize his dream of playing for the country, but a lot of other youngsters in SRH who are equally talented. And eventually, they will also realize their dream of playing for the country.

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"And I just feel that the endeavour as far as a franchise is concerned is to pick players who are not only skilful, who are not only talented and have got the potential to win matches and tournaments for the franchise, but also who are very committed to the team you know and to create an environment in the dressing room which is very important, because that is one of the challenges of being part of IPL tournament because very quickly, and in a very short span of time you have to have everyone gelling with each other, and that camaraderie and that bonding is very important if you have to play as a unit and win matches as a unit. And that's why this story is one story where talent meets an opportunity and he grabs it both the hands and realize his dream and hope that a lot more youngsters from the SRH family will continue to realize that dream,” Laxman said.

Dhoni-Natarajan

Laxman cited his example of being left overawed while making his debut in South Africa in 1996 but added that is no more the case when it comes to young players as IPL has given them the confidence and exposure of rubbing shoulders with world-class players.

“You know, there's also a lot of importance given to Ranji Trophy, and the List-A matches be it Syed Mushtaq Ali or Vijay Hazare Trophy. But I think the biggest talking point over the last four months has been the bench strength of the Indian cricket team. You know, I think one of the historical wins for India has been the one we recently achieved in Australia. And one of the main reasons is the IPL. There's no doubt about it,” Laxman said.

“The biggest difference, and I've experienced that in my career, when I made my international debut in South Africa in 1996. That was the first time I was playing in front of 45,000 people and I was overawed by the big location, and you're playing against quality bowlers from South Africa. But what IPL is done is for a period of two to one months, it allows the uncapped, talented Indian players to rub shoulders with the best in the world, you know, not only from India but from the world. And when that opportunity of understanding the game learning from the best will sort of enhance the growth and progress as a professional cricketer. And that's what IPL has done,” he explained.

Further elaborating on his point, Laxman said that IPL has played a major role in boosting the bench strength of the Indian cricket team - which is at an all-time high. 

“You can see the Brisbane Test match where India were without Virat Kohli and a frontline Test bowling attack. They had a bowling attack, which was probably just four or five Test matches experienced as far as the international cricket was concerned. But the way they carried the responsibility and the way they delivered when it mattered, shows that how much IPL has helped them to develop as cricketers.

“The partnership between Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar, they're playing in Test match cricket for first time and to play against Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and also Nathan Lyon and to bat in that fashion is just because of the confidence they got playing in IPL. So I feel as a lot of positives and one of the reasons why Indian bench strength is strong is because of the youngsters participating in IPL without undervaluing the structure, the systems of the BCCI where the age group level cricket. India A and India Under-19 are given a lot of importance, the role of NCA - all played a part but I feel from the confidence level point of view IPL has made a big impact on these youngsters,” Laxman concluded.

Sunrisers Hyderabad open their IPL 2021 campaign against Kolkata Knight Riders in Chennai on April 11.

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Sunrisers Hyderabad Squad for IPL 2021: David Warner (Captain), Kane Williamson, Jonny Bairstow (WK), Manish Pandey, Sreevats Goswami (WK), Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Priyam Garg, Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, Abdul Samad, Virat Singh, Jason Roy, Jason Holder, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T. Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed, Siddarth Kaul, Basil Thampi, Jagadeesha Suchith, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman

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