One of the most consistent sides in the Indian Premier League, Sunrisers Hyderabad with their lethal top-order, solid bowling unit and never say die attitude are once again among the top four likely contenders for a play-off spot this year.
Under the leadership of Australian David Warner, SRH clinched their first-ever title in 2016 and this year again the Orange Army will be keen to get their hands on the coveted trophy. Last season, despite a spate of injuries to key players Sunrisers showed immense character and grit to make it to the play-offs, losing to the Delhi Capitals in the second qualifier.
Having retained most of its players, SRH were fairly inactive at the auction this year, buying only Afghan spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, all-rounder Kedar Jadhav and Karnataka spinner Jagadeesha Suchith. They later signed Jason Roy as a replacement for all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who made himself unavailable for the entire tournament due to personal reasons.
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The Sunrisers begin their campaign on April 11 when they lock horns with Kolkata Knight Riders. Here’s a look at what works and what doesn’t for the Orange Army.
Strength: Sunrisers are a top-heavy side. Skipper David Warner is one of the top performers in IPL history. Having won the ‘Orange Cap’ thrice, he is third on the list of the all-time leading scorers in the tournament behind Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina.
Warner and Englishman Jonny Bairstow lit the tournament ablaze with their explosive batting while opening the innings in 2019. Even Wriddhiman Saha, who was entrusted with the role of opener, did a commendable job last year. It will be interesting to see who the team management picks alongside Warner given that Bairstow will occupy one overseas spot.
Manish Pandey and the ever-reliable Kane Williamson, who possess the ability to take any opposition to the cleaners, are expected to continue at number three and four spots respectively, making for a solid top order.
Sunrisers won the 2016 title on the back of some stellar bowling performances and this year too they have a solid bowling unit at their disposal. Senior India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has been in sensational form since returning from his injury, and yorker specialist T Natarajan, who was the find of the 2020 season, will form the fulcrum of the pace attack.
It augers well for the Sunrisers that they are going to play the major chunk of their league games on the spin-friendly tracks of the Chepauk and the Feroz Shah Kotla. Star Afghan spinner Rashid Khan, who boasts of the best bowling economy of 6.24 at an average of 20.49 in the tournament, will as usual bowl four tight overs. SRH also have the option to play Afghan off-spinners Mohammad Nabi and new recruit Mujeeb-ur-Rahman. Other options include left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and their part time tweakers.
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Weakness: Sunrisers’ blind spot is the lack of depth in their batting order. Last year, the team heavily relied on Manish Pandey and Kane Williamson to provide direction when the openers failed while Jason Holder was instilled to finish off games.
They boast of a host of young players including all-rounders Abhishek Sharma and Abdul Samad and former India under-19 captain Priyam Garg. SRH will need their youngsters to perform as soon as they are thrown into the thick of things.
They have also added experienced India all-rounder Kedar Jadav, who is coming off good Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy campaigns, to the squad to provide the much-needed stability in the lower-order.
Opportunities: The youngsters in the squad put up some good performances but weren’t consistent last season. These highly-rated players will once again get a chance to prove what they are capable of at the big stage.
Threats: Sunrisers biggest threat is the overdependence on its international players. While skipper David Warner and Rashid Khan are irreplaceable, Kane Williamson has also proved to be a big asset for the team, cementing his spot. If anyone of these players suffers a slump in form it could potentially jeopardise the Sunrisers campaign.
Squad: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Shreevats Goswami, Wriddhiman Saha, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Mohammad Nabi, Vijay Shankar, Kedar Jadhav, Jason Roy, Jason Holder, Abdul Samad, Rashid Khan, Abhishek Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Siddarth Kaul, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Khaleel Ahmed, T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma, Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jagadeesha Suchith, Trevor Bayliss (Head Coach).