Notwithstanding Rising Pune Supergiants' poor run in IPL-9, Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor VVS Laxman considers the debutante side as a formidable unit and said his team will have to put its best foot forward when they clash with them in their IPL match on Tuesday.
"It goes without saying that (RPS Captain M S Dhoni) Dhoni will be looking forward to use Ashwin against Warner and Shikhar. I believe that Pune has got a very formidable batting line up," Laxman said in a pre-match press conference at Hyderabad.
"Lot of people talk about Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith, Faf Duplessis being similar. They are all extrordinary T20 players. We cannot at all be complecent or we cannot at all underestimate the batting strength of Pune. We are very mindful," he added.
The former Test batsman, however, exuded confidence that SRH can take on any opposition if it sticks to its plans and executes them well.
"But, I believe that if we concentrate on our plans and try to execute our plans, then we can do well against any opposition. It's more about concentrating and playing to our strength, while strategizing for each and every opposition batsman or bowler," he said.
Noting that the MS Dhoni-led Pune team would look to bounce back strongly, Laxman said no team can be ruled out as it is still the early part of the long IPL tournament.
"I was reading that Fleming was disappointed with the way they started their campaign. But, they got an exceptionally talented side with Captain MS Dhoni leading from the front. I am sure they will look to bounce back strongly. We have seen in the past someone like Mumbai Indians lost lot of the matches and went on to win the IPL.
"So, it is just the start of the tournament and no team can be ruled out. I am sure they would like to bounce back. We have seen this in IPL where it's all about momentum. Once you start winning the matches, then you win continuously and once you start losing matches, you start losing consecutively two or three matches. It's all about momentum. Pune will be looking forward to win. That's why it's going to be a very important match against them," he said.
After losing to Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders in the first two matches, the Hyderabad side has registered three wins in a row and Laxman said they would like to continue the momentum on Tuesday.
"SRH has got great depth in its batting with openers David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan and other batsmen, including Eoin Morgan, Moises Henriques, Naman Ojha and Deepak Hooda rising the bar," he said.
"In the last two years, we were told we did not have enough fire power in the middle order. Now, if you see, Naman Ojha in the last match had come at number seven, Moises (Henriques) at number six and Deepak Hooda at number five and Morgan at four," Laxman said.
"So, I think we got enough depth in our batting. Bowlers like Bipul (Sharma) and Karn (Sharma) can also bat and so does Bhuvneshwar Kumar. So, I think we are very pleased.
"But, in T20 format, it's also important that your top 3 batsmen perform and invariably, when that happens, you are always in a comfortable position to pile up a big total or chase a big total. So, the importance of the top three is very crucial," Laxman said.
He also complimented the way SRH bowlers, including Bhunveshwar Kumar, Mustafizur Rahman, Barinder Sran have performed in the recent matches.
"We are very pleased with the way our bowlers have performed. Especially, if you see the last two games against formidable batting line ups, our bowlers did really well. Not to single out anyone, as a bowling group, I thought, to defend both the teams below 150 was exceptional on good batting wickets. That's something which we want to continue," he said.
Laxman said seasoned players Ashish Nehra and Yuvraj Singh, who are recovering from injuries, would be invaluable when they join the team after being declared fit.
"To answer when Nehra and Yuvraj comes, both of them are match winners and experienced players. We are fortunate to have both of them. We will try to use their experience.
"I am sure both of them are raring to go. But, we have to wait on their fitness. Once, both of them are fit, they will be invaluable to win the matches. It's important to have match winners. We do not want to rely on one or two individuals to win us matches. the more the number, the better for us."
Replying to a query, Laxman said Hyderabad's key player Kane Williamson is now fit.
The 41-year-old from Hyderabad said captain David Warner does have a big say in team selection and that the playing XI is picked as per team's requirements.
"But, I think me, Tom (Moody), Murali (Muralidharan), along with David, we sit down and select the XI and we choose the XI depending on the opposition we are playing and depending on the condition we are going to confront," he said.
"But, having said that, I think we want to be as consistent as possible with our selection. I have experienced in the past, if you chop and change with one or two bad performances, it will create a feeling of insecurity within the group which we don't want.
"Over the years, we have been very consistent in giving opportunities to each and every individual. Warner definitely has a big say in picking up the XI," he said.