Warner was with us in spirit last season: Yusuf Pathan

Kolkata: David Warner might not have been a part of Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) last season, but for his teammates, it felt like he was constantly in touch with them throughout the season, experienced middle-order batsman Yusuf Pathan revealed on Saturday.

“He did not feature in the team, but he was always with us. Wins or losses, he always kept in touch and kept motivating us,” Pathan told reporters during an interaction here.

Warner, who was banned for one-year by Cricket Australia for his role in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year, helped Sunrisers win their maiden IPL title in 2016, and was the leading run-getter in 2017.

“He backed the players and would always praise if somebody did well. He may be coming back after one year, but it does not feel that he was not there with us last season. He was with us in spirit,” Pathan revealed.

Warner will be the cynosure of all eyes this season along with Steve Smith, the former Australia captain who also faced similar punishment for the same ball tampering row.

Pathan said that one may not be an SRH fan, but everyone will come to watch an “entertainer” like Warner.

“He has always been an entertainer. He always likes to play his shots early. So obviously everyone will look forward to him and how he plays this time.

“He is returning after a long time so many people will come to watch him play again. You may not be a fan of SRH, but everyone enjoys his style of batting. He is an entertainer on the field,” he said.

Warner’s international ban ends on March 28, but the southpaw is eligible to play in franchise leagues and would be hoping to get into his zone to stake a claim in Australia’s World Cup squad.

Coming to Sunrisers, the last year’s finalists will miss Shikhar Dhawan this season as the India opener was roped in by Delhi Capitals. Dhawan hit 497 runs and was the team’s second highest run-scorer last year.

Pathan said the team management will have to push someone up the order and as matches go by, the picture would be clearer.

“In Dhawan’s absence, we will have to push someone up the order. With more matches, the picture will become clear,” he said.

Sunrisers will be without many of their foreign recruits, including Afghan spinner Rashid Khan, at the back end of the season as they will leave for international commitments.

Asked if the Kane Williamson-led side would go all out from the outset to make the most of their full set of players, Pathan said: “It won’t be tough only for us. The top overseas players of all the franchises will go back to their respective countries. Every team have their own back-up options ready and we are no different.”

On Rashid, Pathan said besides his brilliant leg-break, his batting is also a huge plus for the team.

“He has the experience of playing in most of the countries, be it Afghanistan, Australia or New Zealand. He is hugely experienced. It’s a big plus point that he is in fine shape, not only with the ball, but with the bat as well,” he said.

Pathan also stressed on SRH bowling coach and legendary Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan’s tips, which are proving very handy as far as his own bowling is concerned.

“He guided me as to where the landing foot should be and also where my right leg should be at the time of delivery. He spoke about the position of my front arm and where I should be looking. He also spoke about the speed of my bowling arm and how it should come down…so that helped,” he said.

“When you are in the game, you don’t always realise what are the areas you need to work on. But when someone like Murali guides you, you get an idea. He not only guides me, but everyone in the team.”