'We just felt that Kane needed a little bit of extra time to get match fit and a little bit more time in the nets.'
Head coach Trevor Bayliss said the reason why Kane Williamson was left out of SunRisers Hyderabad's opening match against Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday was because the New Zealand captain needs a bit of extra time to regain his match fitness.
SRH suffered a 10-run defeat in their opening match in IPL 2021 after they finished on 177/5 despite half-centuries from Manish Pandey (61 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (55).
"We just felt that Kane needed a little bit of extra time to get match fit and a little bit more time in the nets. He would have played in place of Jonny Bairstow obviously if that had occurred. But we aren't too perturbed about that, Jonny has been in form recently in white-ball cricket here in India. Kane will obviously come into calculations as the tournament unfolds," Bayliss said after the match.
Needing 57 off 24 balls in the tight run chase, SRH promoted all-rounder Vijay Shankar ahead of big-hitter Abdul Samad. But Shankar struggled to get going, managing just 11 from seven balls before Samad made a late attempt, hitting two sixes off Pat Cummins in the 19th over to score 19 from eight balls, while Pandey smashed three sixes and two fours in his unbeaten 44-ball knock.
Asked about the move to promote Shankar ahead of Samad, Bayliss reasoned, "Vijay in our practice matches that we had a few days ago was our best player. He struck the ball beautifully and made 95 in one of the games, hit a lot of the balls long way over the fence. It's always difficult in those situations whenever you go in you have to go pretty much from the first ball you face."
"Samad in a short space of time last IPL and this one has shown that he has a lot of talent and is a clean striker of the ball. I think as he gets more experience, he will get more opportunities," he added.
Bayliss said they would continue to reward last season's performers as they helped the team turn their fortunes around and make a late dash into the play-offs.
"At the moment what we wanted to do is reward the guys who finished the tournament last year. We got off to a slow start the last tournament but came back well to reach the finals (play-offs). Someone like (Wriddhiman) Saha opening and batting so well in that tournament we felt we should reward the guys who finished it so well for us last year," the SRH head coach said.
"Depending on fitness and form, we know Jonny (Bairstow) can open the batting and keep as well. It gives us options but yes he has done well for England at No 4 recently," he added.