Smart buys in the auctions and retaining their core team has reaped rich dividends for Sunrisers Hyderabad over the past few seasons and it has helped them be one of the most consistent franchises.
Over the past three seasons, they have lifted the trophy once (2016) finished runners-up (last season).
Even with the absence of regular skipper David Warner, the team did wonders in 2018, finishing as group toppers. What Hyderabad have done differently compared to the rest of the pack is how they have gone about bolstering their bowling unit.
Their strength in depth and the variations that are on offer in the bowling department helped Hyderabad bounce back from tricky situations last year. Barring a Shane Watson blitzkrieg in the final, the Orange Army defended totals at will.
However, stability and quality leadership are the key factors behind Hyderabad becoming a force to reckon with, despite making their debut in the IPL only in 2013. Teams like Delhi Daredevils can take note of Hyderabad’s winning formula. Given how consistent they have been, it should come as a major shock if they don’t reach the play-offs in 2019 as well.
SRH in IPL over the years
The big changes
Warner coming back this year will only bolster the batting lineup. The Australian opener is easily one of the finest to play in IPL but with lack of competitive cricket in recent times, it will be interesting to see if he can hit the ground running.
Meanwhile, regular India opener Shikhar Dhawan’s tenure with the franchise has come to an end after he was traded with Delhi all-rounder Vijay Shankar, among a couple of other players. Hyderabad will be thrilled to learn that the 27-year-old from Tamil Nadu has been fine form with the bat for India recently and stands a fighting chance of making it to the World Cup squad.
England’s Test wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow and Martin Guptill also provide cover at the top of the order, with Kane Williamson the fulcrum.
Spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and India U-19 World Cup winner Abhishek Sharma, meanwhile, are notable additions to the spin department, drafted in as part of the Dhawan trade.
All eyes are on keeper Wriddhiman Saha and how good a comeback he can make following a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to injury. Saha being tossed around in the batting order was one of the few sore points last season in what was an otherwise efficient outfit.
Indian players under World Cup radar
Vijay Shankar and Manish Pandey’s form will be closely monitored as India continue to seek answers to their No 4 conundrum. While the Indian team management lost patience with Pandey, Vijay Shankar has impressed with his strokemaking ability. Only time will tell how much the all-rounder will roll his arm over, keeping in mind how settled the Hyderabad bowling lineup is.
As for the batting order, it is anyone’s guess if Vijay Shankar is deployed at No 4, considering the options Hyderabad have at their disposal there. Bhuvneshwar Kumar may not have set the stage on fire in the recently concluded Australia series, but he has been one of the best exponents in the death overs in the IPL. Without a doubt, the medium-pacer is one of the vital cogs of this side. Khaleel Ahmed was given a handful of chances in recent times to add a more variety in the Indian pace attack. A good run here will see him once again giving the selectors a headache.
Indian player to watch out for
Vijay Shankar will grab all the eyeballs this time given that World Cup is around the corner. So far, in international cricket, he has shown that he can get off to fluent starts. A big knock during the IPL can change the way people perceive Vijay Shankar’s ability with the bat. Gifted with the ability to time the ball fluently and clear the ropes at will, the Chennai lad adds more power to the middle-order. Kumar will be in the mix as he is the leader of this formidable bowling pack. This time, though, it is Sunrisers’ batting that will be on the spotlight.
Foreign Player to watch out for
Here again, it was a tough fight between Warner and Rashid Khan but the Afghanistan leg-spinner wins the race. As much as this IPL is important for India to find a couple of missing pieces to their World Cup puzzle, this is the only chance for the tainted duo of Warner and Steve Smith to earn match practice, and stamp their class.
Rashid Khan, though, continues to grow in stature and recently played a pivotal role in his country’s first-ever Test victory. His variations have flummoxed some of the best in the business and it won’t be a surprise to see him finish among the top wicket-takers yet again this season.
Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Martin Guptill, Ricky Bhui, David Warner, Deepak Hooda, Mohammad Nabi, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Abhishek Sharma, Vijay Shankar, Sreevats Gowsami, Jonny Bairstow, Wriddhiman Saha, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Basil Thampi, Billy Stanlake, T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem