After a terrific Indian Premier League campaign last year, Sunrisers Hyderabad huffed and puffed into the playoffs before being dumped out of the tournament by Delhi Capitals in what was a thrilling tie at Visakhapatnam.

On paper, SRH had experience, international pedigree and balance. It was no surprise to see them pencilled in as one of the favourites. Matters on the pitch, though, left a lot to be desired. Several household names failed to turn up.

Despite some terrific knocks from returning Australian David Warner and Englishman Jonny Bairstow, the 2016 champions hardly got any momentum going. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the captain during the initial stages before New Zealand’s Kane Williamson took over after recovering from injury.

Williamson had led the side admirably in 2018, which saw SRH reach the final. Following a poor end to the group stages, they were lucky to sneak into the playoffs as Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals also had a season that they would like to forget in a hurry.

Opposition  Scores Result
Kolkata Knight Riders SRH 181/3 [20]
KKR 183/4 [19.4]
KKR won by 6 wickets
Rajasthan Royals  RR 198/2 [20]
SRH 201/5 [19]
SRH won by 5 wickets
Royal Challengers Bangalore SRH 231/2 [20]
RCB 113 [19.5]
SRH won by 118 runs
Delhi Capitals  DC 129/8 [20]
SRH 131/5 [18.3]
SRH won by 5 wickets
Mumbai Indians  MI 136/7 [20]
SRH 96 [17.4]
MI won by 40 runs 
Kings XI Punjab  SRH 150/4 [20]
KXIP 151/4 [19.5]
KXIP won by 6 wickets
Delhi Capitals  DC 155/7 [20]
SRH 116 [18.5]
DC won by 39 runs 
Chennai Super Kings CSK 132/5 [20]
SRH 137/4 [20]
SRH won by 6 wickets
Kolkata Knight Riders KKR 159/8 [20]
SRH 161/1 [15]
SRH won by 9 wickets
Chennai Super Kings SRH 175/3 [20]
CSK 176/4 [19.5]
CSK won by 6 wickets
Rajasthan Royals  SRH 160/8 [20]
RR 161/3 [19.1]
RR won by 7 wickets
Kings XI Punjab  SRH 212/6 [20]
KXIP 167/8 [20]
SRH won by 45 runs
Mumbai Indians 
MI 162/5 [20]
SRH 162/6 [20]
Match Tied – MI won via Super Over
Royal Challengers Bangalore SRH 175/7 [20]
RCB 178/6 [19.2]
RCB won by 4 wickets
Delhi Capitals SRH 162/8 [20]
DC 165/8 [19.5]
DC won by 2 wickets

What worked

There were only few positives that emerged from SRH’s campaign and Warner and Bairstow’s heroics top the list by a mile. It was a partnership that got together purely by chance. Williamson’s unavailability meant that the management experimented with the England-Australian duo. And they were ruthless at the top, consistently taking their team to rollicking starts and setting a solid platform for the batsmen to follow.

With 791 runs under their belt with an average hovering around 90, they recorded the most runs scored by an opening duo in IPL history. This included three back-to-back century partnerships, another first. It was a shame that SRH couldn’t have them till the end of the season – not that it would have guaranteed a place in the final. SRH’s form was patchy even when they were around.

On a personal note, Warner redeemed himself after the misdemeanours of last year, which saw him serve a one-year ban following the infamous ball-tampering scandal that rocked the national team. He returned to an arena that serenades him every time he walks to the crease. The Hyderabad crowd have good reason too as Warner was their title-winning captain. One can never talk enough about the IPL bridging ties between two rival nations. Not long long ago, Warner and Bairstow were involved in a verbal stoush while playing for their respective countries.

There’s no love lost between England and Australia, eh? Think again.

What didn’t work

Bhuvneshwar Kumar looked out of depth as captain but there is little he can do if his teammates fall short in the roles they were asked to deliver. Coach Tom Moody, during his performance review, will notice how consistently below-par his middle-order batsmen were. Kumar, who has been a revelation in this tournament and in the SRH setup, endured a tough campaign.

The India pacer’s 13 wickets came at an unimpressive 35.46. There were only rare glimpses of his control during the powerplay and the death overs. As a result, the Orange Army were conceding more than they would have. Last year, their route to the final was on the strength of their bowling performances alone. Whether it was Kumar, Basil Thampi, or Siddarth Kaul – they impressed only in fits and starts.

Player of the season

Rashid Khan, as always, was a menace to opposition batsmen and had yet another fine season. Khaleel Ahmed, who only played nine games, was a revelation and showed that it won’t be long before he makes a return in India colours – the left-armer picked up 19 wickets at 15.10.

However, there is very little to suggest that Warner shouldn’t be rewarded with season honours for his efforts. As things stand, there is every chance that he will end up as this year’s top run-getter; he is yet to be dethroned after getting 692 runs, averaging nearly 70.

It was a personal victory for the 32-year-old as well. After making a disgraceful exit in the Cape Town post mortem, the southpaw’s ruthlessness in carving bowlers apart at the start of his innings, consistency, and street-fighting skills were as good as new.

Disappointment of the season

There were a few under-performers in the SRH ranks but the performances of Vijay Shankar would have made Indian cricket fans uneasy with the World Cup just weeks away.

He could neither get going as a pinch hitter nor as a middle-order batsman tasked with the onus of stabilising the innings. The 27-year-old finished with paltry returns of 244 runs at 20.33. It worked out for Shankar that India’s World Cup squad was announced during the early stages of the IPL.

A distance away from the “three dimensional” fanfare, there is little to suggest that the all-rounder should be India’s No 4 when they face South Africa on June 5 at the Rose Bowl.

Batting stats for key SRH players

Player Matches  Runs Average
David Warner  12 692 69.20
Jonny Bairstow  10 445 55.62
Manish Pandey  12 344 43.00
Vijay Shankar  15 244 20.33

Bowling stats for key KKR players

Player  Matches  Wickets  Economy Rate
Khaleel Ahmed  9 19 8.23
Rashid Khan  15 17 6.38
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 15 13 7.81
Sandeep Sharma  11 12 8.25

Going forward

As mentioned earlier, SRH are a settled unit but their frequent middle-order collapses let them down. Shankar, Manish Pandey (who found form in the latter stages), Yusuf Pathan, Deepak Hooda and Shakib Al Hasan were easy pickings for the bowlers. That is an area that Moody and Co should look at strengthening for next season.

Ahmed and Thampi will come back with more experience under the belt and can only get better. The same can be said about India U-19 World Cup winner Abhishek Sharma. If Kumar and Shankar’s nightmares end soon, SRH can once again aspire to finish in the top-two. However, 2019 ended as one of their least remarkable campaigns.