IPL 2018: Can Sunrisers Hyderabad manage without David Warner?

Kolkata: Former champions Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have enough cricketers to fill the big shoes of David Warner if the tainted Australia vice-captain is asked to step down as captain of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, feels teammate and India wicket-keeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha.

Warner, 31, is right in the eye of the storm surrounding the ball-tampering crisis with Australian media reports surfacing that the dashing southpaw is the “the central character” in the scandal that has rocked cricket.

SRH mentor and former India batting great V.V.S. Laxman has said the team management will wait for for Cricket Australia’s decision on the player before commenting on his participation in the cash-rich T20 tournament.

“The decision is yet to be taken so I am assuming the team is planning for the season keeping him in mind. In hindsight, if he is not there, the team is strong enough to replace him,” Saha told reporters at the Calcutta Sports Journalists’ Club days before leaving for Hyderabad to join the camp.

“If Warner is there, it will be great obviously. He has batted superbly for SRH in the last few years and as captain has done well too.

“But I feel, we have replacements to fill his void. It may not be 100 per cent as he is a quality player, but we can try and fill the gap,” said Saha who was roped in by SRH for Rs 5 crore in the player auction earlier this year.

Saha said if could be a problem initially since the team is built around the skipper but SRH have players to cope with it.

“The team was decided based on the captain. In that way, there can be an initial impact. But we have a strong reserve bench and I don’t think it will be much of a problem,” he said.

Like Harbhajan Singh, who was vocal in a tweet about the quantum of punishment the ICC meted out to Smith and Cameron Bancroft, feeling aggrieved at both being let off to easily, Saha said, rules should be the same for everyone.

“They all represent the country and are brand ambassadors of the game. If they do something that is not suitable, I don’t think that does the sport any good. The rule should be same for everyone. Everyone should be treated the same way and not on case to case basis,” Saha said.

According to reports in the Australian press, Darren Lehmann could quit as head coach, while captain Steve Smith, who admitted the ball-tampering plan that also involved Cameron Bancroft, may be stripped of the captaincy for good.

Ajinkya Rahane has already replaced Smith as captain of Rajasthan Royals.

Smith and Warner stood down as captain and vice-captain during the third Test match against South Africa on Sunday for involvement in ball tampering on the third day in Cape Town.

“From whatever I have seen, they have tampered with the ball blatantly which is not in the right spirit of the game,” Saha said on the incident.

On Smith admitting to playing foul later, Saha said, “He might have thought that if he admitted to tampering with the ball, the punishment would be lessened. Now it is for the authorities to decide. Let’s see what happens.”

Saha did not want to point fingers as Smith and Warner solely, saying it was the entire team which played against the spirit of the game.

India opener Shikhar Dhawan could be made captain of SRH if Warner is removed.

Meanwhile, Saha said SRH have a solid middle order with the likes of New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey and Deepak Hooda in their ranks and he is ready to bat anywhere for his franchise.

Saha added that he does not plan to follow skipper Virat Kohli in playing County cricket ahead of the all-important England series.

“On wicket-keeping in English conditions, he added, “When the bowler bowls, there is lateral movement after the ball has crossed the batsman. The ball wobbles. Even if the batsman has edged the ball, it wobbles which is very challenging.”