Has Jonny Bairstow’s absence opened up the gates for David Warner to the SRH playing XI again?
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s most celebrated star, a man found on walls in the form of newspaper clippings or posters across many homes in Hyderabad and the management’s one-stop solution for every issue, David Warner finds himself in a strange situation this time around. He continues to rule the hearts of the SRH fans through his regular social media engagement, but he seems to have lost the trust of his club’s management.
There was a sense of unease within the franchise throughout the tournament this season, caused largely by the absence of a strong lower middle-order batsman. Their top three churning out big runs was a major reason behind their success over the last few seasons, which was the case last edition as well. Once the side saw a series of 3-4 games without many runs from that revered top three, panic entangled their feet and took them down.
The likes of Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar struggled to get good scores, further mounting the pressure on those at the top. This is where the youngsters like Abdul Samad, Abhishek Sharma and Priyam Garg had to be taken in and out of the XI, and panic made this management take some horrible calls to add to the agony.
Most of these issues were magnified by the viewing world, largely because of David Warner’s inconsistent run with the bat, that began last season. Warner was never the king of slow conditions, but he somehow managed to scrape 500+ in the 2020 edition in UAE. However, fans were far from convinced that he had a decent season. That’s how heightened the expectations are in his case.
A man who averages in excess of 42 as an opener in this format, over the course of 148 IPL games, is bound to raise the bars among fans. Putting that into context, his 193 runs at a measly strike rate of 110, was intolerable.
Sunrisers played their first five fixtures in Chennai, which did not help Warner’s cause. Known to be the Indian paradise for spinners, the Chepauk once again woke up the demons in the Australian’s head. His confidence was dented so bad, he ended up playing one of the most forgettable knocks in IPL history on a batting paradise against CSK. His 55-ball 57 was painful on the eye, with the southpaw barely middling the ball on 8-10 occasions.
That knock was the telling blow for the management, who decided to change captaincy immediately to put Warner on the sidelines. While this wasn’t the first time Warner had a slow start in the IPL, the management wasn’t entirely wrong in thinking the way they did, as his form was more than just concerning.
Bairstow’s absence puts David Warner back in the fray
Jonny Bairstow was Sunrisers’ best batsman this season, registering 248 runs at an average of 41.33. Bayliss, until Warner’s horror run, could only juggle between Kane Williamson, Bairstow and an all-rounder position, as David Warner and Rashid Khan pick themselves in the side. That changed when Williamson was handed the captaincy after the sixth game, leaving Warner on the bench.
David Warner has arrived in the UAE and will be available for selection right from the get-go. This might convince head coach Trevor Bayliss to go ahead with him and Saha at the top, but with Bayliss’s past decisions were any signs, it would come as no surprise if Jason Roy appears in the XI instead of Warner or new signing Sherfane Rutherford.
Rutherford, who scored 202 runs in 8 matches, with an average of 40.40 and a strike rate of 136.73 in the CPL thus far, has been announced as the replacement for Jonny Bairstow. The SRH management have been eagerly waiting for a strong middle order presence and perhaps they might’ve found that solution in Rutherford, who bats predominantly at number 5 or below.
The signs aren’t in favor of a Warner comeback. These are the very conditions where he struggles the most, so for him to overcome his worst IPL adversity in the middle-east is too much of an ask for those who write fairytale destinies.
Similar is the case for Sunrisers, who have a herculean task in UAE, where they have to win at least 6 out of their remaining 7 games to stay in contention. Never in IPL history, a side has managed to reach the playoffs after losing 6 of their opening 7 games, and an unseen, unheard-of comeback is what they need to stretch their playoff streak to six (Since 2016, they never finished in the bottom four).