The Sunrisers Hyderabad have received a welcome boost in the shape of both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and T Natarajan returning from their injuries, but with one win from seven games, they have left themselves a mountain to climb.
Usually one of the most consistent sides in the Indian Premier League, the Sunrisers Hyderabad were finally exposed this season after a dismal showing during the first leg of the 2021 IPL. The top-heavy Sunrisers were the least active during the 2021 mini-auction and the lack of proactiveness on their management’s side has come back to haunt them.
Since 2016, under the leadership of Australian opening batter David Warner, the Sunrises have made the Playoffs five times in a row, winning the 2016 edition against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their own backyard. But the lack of investment in key areas of the squad has resulted in the Hyderabad franchise slowly fade away; even individual brilliance couldn’t save their blushes this season.
Moreover, after their dominating run during the 2018 campaign where they lost to eventual champions, the Chennai Super Kings, the team never looked to address their ever-lingering issues and seemed to have lost their mojo after they barely scraped through to make the Playoffs during both the 2019 and the 2020 seasons.
With players like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and T Natarajan both suffering season-ending injuries and their talismanic captain David Warner seemingly out of form, SRH struggled to cope as their captain and management soon ran out of ideas, ultimately causing a fallout between the two, which led to David Warner giving up the captaincy to Kane Williamson, who is likely to see out the season before next year’s mega-auction.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the SWOT Analysis of the Sunrisers Hyderabad as they look to turn their fortunes around.
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Kane Williamson (c), David Warner, Abhishek Sharma, Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Manish Pandey, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Shreevats Goswami, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, T Natarajan, Vijay Shankar, Wriddhiman Saha, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Mitchell Marsh, Jason Holder, Abdul Samad, Kedar Jadhav, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Jagadeesha Suchith.
Everybody knows where the Sunrisers’ strength lies: it is their explosive top-order and their ever-dependable no. 3 and no. 4. No disrespect to them, but the rest of their batting lineup is considerably weaker than any other side in the league.
Just to add some context to this point, after the first seven games, Johnny Bairstow is their leading run-getter with 248 runs at a strike rate of 148. Manish Pandey, from his five innings, has amassed 193 runs at a strike rate of 123.7 and Kane Williamson has had 128 runs from four innings at a strike rate of 126, while their leader David Warner has accumulated 193 runs from six innings at a strike rate of just over 110.
This is unlike the David Warner of the past, and while people will look to target him being one of the primary reasons for their recent fall, after these four batters, the next best is Vijay Shankar, who has scored 58 runs from five innings at a measly strike rate of 110.
As a cricketing purist, watching the Sunrisers Hyderabad bowling unit hunt in packs, stifling the opposition batters, and choking them into submission – that’s an art in itself, and it was something I was getting accustomed to. And it hurt me when it all unravelled before my eyes when the season kicked off back in April.
Rashid Khan, as always, was potent and lethal whenever called upon. The Afghanistan captain took 10 wickets from seven matches at an economy of 6.14.
But it looks like the supporting cast didn’t get the memo for the party. Before getting injured, Bhuvneshwar Kumar took three wickets in five matches at an economy of 9.10, Khaleel Ahmed took four wickets from five matches, while Siddharth Kaul and Vijay Shankar took 3 each. They lacked the potency, and more worryingly, leaked runs at a rapid rate.
Like I said in the Strength section, apart from the top four, there’s no depth to SRH’s batting. Young players like Abhishek Sharma, Priyam Garg and Abdul Samad have been given a fair run, but the consistency and output aren’t there, at least so far. Senior players like Kedar Jadhav, Wriddhiman Saha, Mohammed Nabi and Shahbaz Nadeem will need to step up their game for the Sunrisers to climb up the table.
The no. 5 slot in the Indian squad is up for grabs, and performances in the second leg of the IPL will decide who takes that place. However, Manish Pandey never seems to have the rub of the green; he has been in and out of the Indian white-ball setup for the last 3-4 years. He was the main candidate for the no. 4 slot for the 2019 World Cup squad, but then Ambati Rayudu’s stellar performances for the Chennai Super Kings in their triumphant 2018 season tilted the matter in his favour. Although the 34-year-old himself missed the cut to Vijay Shankar in a bizarre sequence of events, but that’s a different story altogether, and for another day.
After a couple of disappointing scores, the SRH management took the bold move of dropping Pandey to the bench. But after sitting out their fourth and fifth fixtures, Manish Pandey returned looking more assuring and with a clearer headspace and thought process as he returned scores of 61 and 31 before the season got paused. He already has 193 runs from five matches at a decent strike rate of 124, and a good showing in the back half of the season will certainly add more weight to his chances of making that Indian team.
There is already friction among the leadership group and that must have certainly played a part during the first leg played in India. The Sunrisers currently find themselves at the foot of the table and to qualify for the playoffs they will need to win at least six of their seven remaining games, provided other fixtures go their way.
It will be interesting to see how the relationship between David Warner and the coaching staff will evolve in the coming weeks. Will it heal, or is it irreparable? Even if it does, what about their fragile middle-order? Can they step up? Their bowling, can it regain its lost mojo all of a sudden?
There are a lot of holes in this current squad and a change in leadership will hardly make any difference. A lot of things will have to go their way for them to climb back up the table and restore some pride.