Moody (right) with Steyn, one of the two players retained by the SunRisers.
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s renowned coach Tom Moody is thrilled at the franchise retaining Shikhar Dhawan and Dale Steyn — its most successful batsman and fast bowler of the 2013 IPL — and now hopes to "cleverly" use the 'right-to-match’ option at the player auction to build a crack team for sustained success.
Moody gave the thumbs up to the five-player retention policy 'ahead of next month’s auction in Bangalore, considering the salary cap of Rs. 60 crore for a franchise.
"We were thrilled to be able to secure two world-class players in Shikhar Dhawan and Dale Steyn. Going into the auction, we have a top-class opening batsman to build around and a match-winning fast bowler to base our attack around," Moody told Mail Today.
Dhawan, after missing the Sun-Risers’ initial matches of IPL-VI due to a hand injury he sustained in the Mohali Test against Australia in March, ended up as the most prolific scorer for the debutant franchise with 311 runs in 10 matches at 38.87.
South African Steyn, who formed a fearsome SunRisers’ pace attack with Ishant Sharma and Sri Lankan Thisara Perera, captured 19 wickets, the same as Perera.
SunRisers, owned by the Sun Group, can still get some of their other star players back via a unique matching option at the auction on February 12 and 13 in Bangalore.
"We’re fully aware how unpredictable the auction can be. But we are confident with the use of our two 'right-to-match’ options (cards), we will find a competitive combination for sustained success," Moody emphasised.
Each franchise has been allowed a maximum purse of Rs. 60 crore for buying players. Having spent a total of Rs. 22 crore on retaining Dhawan and Steyn, SunRisers are left with Rs. 38 crore to buy other players to raise the team for IPLVII. This season, a franchise can include no less than 16 players and no more than 27, with a maximum of nine overseas players.
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The 48-year-old Australian is happy with the retention rules. "I quite like the idea of the retention of five players, particularly as it’s at a great cost to your salary cap. It requires a fine balance between retention and the clever use of your right-to-match option," he said.
Some franchises wanted the player auction to be advanced to January, but Moody is fine with the dates announced by the BCCI. "I personally don’t think it has any huge ramifications — the timing of early February, compared to late January," the former Worcestershire coach averred.
On the possible relocation of the 2014 IPL abroad due to the general elections, which are likely to begin in mid-April and clash with the T20 league, Moody, who was a member of Australia’s 1987 and 1999 World Cup-winning teams, said: "Ideally, the IPL should be played in India."
Moody, who guided Sri Lanka to the 2007 World Cup final, said SunRisers’ preparations would begin next month. "Once we’ve gone through the auction progress, and we have finalised the fixtures for 2014, our planning will begin with real purpose."
SunRisers, who came into existence after the BCCI scrapped the Deccan Chargers franchise for breach of contract, made a sudden impact on their debut and stormed into the knock-out round of the IPL, losing to Rajasthan Royals in the 'eliminator’.
With this performance, SunRisers qualified for the Champions League T20. But their crucial league match against Brisbane Heat was abandoned due to rain in Ahmedabad, and with that their chances of squeezing into the semi-finals were dashed.
"It was satisfying to get off to a good start in the inaugural season for the SunRisers. Given that we inherited the majority of our squad (from Deccan Chargers), and only had the opportunity to strengthen it in a small auction prior to the season, it was great to get the team playing in a combative style," pointed out Moody.
"It’s always nice to get a diverse group working towards one goal. We were fortunate enough to have not only some world-class players, but some wonderful characters in our group. For us to qualify for the knock-out round against all the critics out there was very rewarding for a new franchise," he said.
"Yes, it was great to see some of our senior players step up to the plate during key moments throughout the tournament and, to be honest, the influence of our more unknown talents like Karn Sharma, Hanuma Vihari and Biplab Samantray was extremely pleasing."
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