As Sunrisers Hyderabad gears up for the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League, they will hope to recreate the winning moment from 2016. The team has strengthened their top order in the mega auction and they also will look forward to bamboozling the opponents with their pace attack.
The most prestigious and cash-rich league around the globe, the Indian Premier League (IPL) commenced on March 26. Sunrisers Hyderabad are one of the few teams to win the coveted trophy following their triumph in 2016. Back then, the title was delivered courtesy of David Warner’s brilliant batting (848 runs at an average of 60.57) and the death bowling by the duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rehman. The duo were instrumental in Hyderabad’s success collecting a combined 40 scalps throughout the tournament.
Ahead of the mega auction, SRH surprised most fans by waiving off quite a few fan favorites and retaining Kane Williamson along with uncapped players Abdul Samad, and Umran Malik. At the auction, SRH strengthened their batting line-up with the additions of Nicholas Pooran (10.75 crore), Rahul Tripathi (8.5 crore), and Aiden Markram (2.6 crore). On the other side, SRH was able to re-acquire the services of Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4.2 crore) and T Natarajan (4 crore) for modest sums, which should help the team massively in the death overs.
Sunrisers Hyderabad Squad
Kane Williamson, Abdul Samad, Umran Malik, Washington Sundar, Nicholas Pooran, T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Priyam Garg, Rahul Tripathi, Abhishek Sharma, Kartik Tyagi, Shreyas Gopal, J Suchith, Aiden Markram, Marco Jansen, Romario Shepherd, R Samarth, Shashank Singh, Saurabh Dubey, Vishnu Vinod, Glenn Phillips, Fazalhaq Farooqi.
A gamble at the top
Although David Warner struggled for form last season, he and Jonny Bairstow were one of the most destructive opening pairs in the IPL during their peak. So it was imperative for SRH to fill the huge hole left by the former stars. Kane Williamson is likely to get the nod to open the innings for the Men in Orange owing to his performances in the past. In the five innings that the Kiwi skipper opened for Hyderabad, he scored 155 runs at an average of 31 while striking at 143.5. However, his strike rate drops to just 110.3 in the powerplay which will mean SRH will have to pair him with a batsman who will take chances at the other end.
Sending Abhishek Sharma along with him can be a gamble, but he can be instructed to attack the opposition and utilize the power play. Also, he has mostly batted in the top-order for his domestic team Punjab. Sharma has 241 runs with a strike rate of 139.3 in 20 innings in the IPL, a number that increases to 187 (two innings) while playing in the first six overs. Going with this opening pair can help SRH utilize the powerplay and will also help Williamson settle and switch gears later in the innings.
Solid middle order but a fragile lower order
With Abhishek and Williamson batting at the top, the team will have one of the stronger middle orders in the tournament. Rahul Tripathi, who averages 28.1 at the No. 3 spot, will be the perfect option as he can play an anchor role even if Williamson departs early. Following Tripathi, SRH have the newly acquired Aiden Markram, who was a steal at 2.6 crore, as their No. 4. While he has played only six IPL games scoring 146 runs, his exploits for South Africa at No. 4, where he has amassed 233 runs at 38.83 and a strike rate of 141.21, can be a useful option for Hyderabad.
Nicholas Pooran will hold the key to put a big total on the scorecard as he can switch the gears at any time and is a proven performer in world cricket. Pooran has a career strike rate of 155 in the IPL and he is even more effective in the death overs where his strike rate rises to 157.3. The lower order looks a little fragile with the lack of a proven finisher and so Pooran will play an extremely important role for the team. Abdul Samad has 222 runs with a strike rate of 146.1 in IPL but is yet to prove his worth in the cash-rich league or international cricket. Romario Shepherd is well known for his power-hitting and has a strike rate of 155.31 in T20Is. However, his lack of experience of playing on Indian surfaces might be a point of concern for SRH.
A vulnerable bowling attack
SRH’s bowling attack includes extra pace but it seems to lack a wicket-taking bowler. First and foremost, the spin department, now without the ever-reliable Rashid Khan, will be on the shoulders of Washington Sundar who has scalped only 27 wickets from 41 innings in the IPL. Abhishek Sharma might partner him with a couple of overs but he is not a front-line spinner.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been a quality bowler for SRH over the years and he seems to be returning back to form with the recent series against West Indies and Sri Lanka. Romario Shepherd will be the fourth pacer in the team and he has just 14 wickets from 17 matches with an economy of 11.21 in T20Is. T Natarajan will be the death overs specialist for the team but he has been consistently struggling with fitness issues.
Natarajan has 14 wickets from 20 innings with an economy of 9.78 in death overs in the IPL. However, his fitness issues can hamper the team. Umran Malik will most probably partner Bhuvnehswar in the powerplay. Malik impressed everyone with his pace in the last IPL and picked two wickets from three matches. He has 11 wickets from 8 Domestic T20s but is yet to perform on the big stage. Bhuvneshwar, Umran, and Natarajan look certain to bowl their full quota but the remaining overs might get distributed in Sundar, Markram, and Abhishek Sharma as they have a couple of part-time spinners in the batting order.
SRH strongest possible XI: Abhishek Sharma, Kane Williamson (C), Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram, Nicholas Pooran, Abdul Samad, Romario Shepherd, Washington Sundar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umran Malik, T Natarajan