Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad have been hit hard just days ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 season. Steven Smith and David Warner will not be allowed to play in IPL 2018 because of their roles in the pre-meditated plan of ball tampering on the third day of the Cape Town Test against South Africa last week.
With just 10 days to go for the coveted tournament to start, the mood in respective camps will be nervous and there will be instances of distractions. This in turn needs to be solved in a quick basis by the management and senior players given that a lot of gloss has gone away.
The decision to axe the duo came from the BCCI after Cricket Australia’s decision earlier on Wednesday which meted out a 12-month ban. This was in reaction in the wake of tremendous outrage over the incident at Newlands from the Australian public, the Australian government and sponsors as well.
Being said that, Smith and Warner, both who were retained by their franchises for Rs 12 crore each, will now have to go for Plan B following the decision by the governing body. The Aussie pair had already stood down as captains of their IPL franchises – RR and SRH – on Monday and Wednesday morning, and their ban now comes as a severe blow both to the individuals and the teams.
Getting key replacements a big task
The IPL will allow both franchises to pick a replacement player. Both Smith and Warner have been huge hits in the IPL and their miss opens up a big void to fill. So the players coming in will need to be ready and start performing from game one if needed to do so.
England skipper Joe Root seems as an ideal replacement for Smith. The Englishman was ignored in the auction this year, but he could be the answer RR need in the middle-order. Root has been in the same zone as Smith especially in Tests and ODIs. The IPL will provide a different challenge for Root, but he could bring in the positivity and the calmness in the RR dugout.
In 25 T20Is, Root has 749 runs at a strike-rate of 128.76.
Replacing Warner, on the other hand, is a headache for Sunrisers given his stature in IPL. Hashim Amla, who had a stellar 2017, can be roped in. He scored 420 runs for Kings XI Punjab last year. The Proteas star gives that immediate fix in the opening combination and could be a suitable partner for Shikhar Dhawan. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Martin Guptill too is a viable option.
New skipper needs to steady the ship
Royals have already named Ajinkya Rahane as their captain for the season, and SRH announced that New Zealand’s Kane Williamson will be the new captain for IPL 11. The Kiwi skipper has been in form both as a batsman and a captain off late and has led the side well.
Kane Williamson has been appointed as captain of SunRisers Hyderabad for IPL 2018. pic.twitter.com/b5SMK8086U
— SunRisers Hyderabad (@SunRisers) March 29, 2018
Williamson provides that calm head and assuring attributes in getting the side past the line. But can he bring in the aggressiveness Warner possessed? This in turn is unlikely.
Meanwhile, Rahane too needs to step up and come in with key decision making in the field. With Smith gone, it is up to Rahane to get his players performing and keeping them from being distracted with all that has been going on. The Indian Test vice-captain has the potential to be a handy leader and bring out the best of Royals.
A master at SRH, Warner falls heavily
The southpaw’s role in the ball-tampering incident has led to him going through a lot as things took an abrupt change. Besides being banned for Australia and the IPL, LG Australia terminated their renewal deal with the player. More sponsorship heartbreaks could be on the way.
But one must not forget what the player achieved at SRH and the heights he took them to. The Orange Cap holder has been the fifth top run-scorer in the IPL with 4014 runs and his absence will hurt the Sunrisers. He took the mantle and feared the responsibility in his shoulders.
STAT ATTACK: WARNER AT SRH
- Warner led SRH in 45 matches out of the side’s 76 matches in IPL.
- Out of the 45 matches, he won 26 and lost 19.
- Since 2014 he has been the highest scorer for SRH for four successive seasons.
- Led the Orange Army to the IPL 2016 title.
- Had scored an impressive century and 26 half-centuries in these four seasons at SRH.
Smith’s leadership attributes will be missed
RR will miss Smith’s captaincy and decision making heavily. The Aussie star took Rising Pune Sueprgiants to the final of 2017 and with the RR team based around them, they players knew what to expect from Smith. He gives any side that extra bit of cushion and confidence and that shows every time he sets out on the field.
He smashed 472 runs last season and notched impressive victories along the road. A respected skipper, he was expected to lead the Royals to glory this season and it is indeed sad that things turned out the way it has.