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IPL 2021: Underdog Sunrisers Hyderabad aim to maintain consistency

Source: IANS

In past few years Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have emerged as one of the most consistent performers in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Since the 2016 edition – which they won- David Warner’s boys had reached the playoff stage on each occasion. They were runner-up in 2018 and finished third last year, that too after losing the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mitchell Marsh, Wriddhiman Saha and Vijay Shankar early in the season due to injuries.

However, quite surprisingly, despite such consistency the ‘Orange Brigade’ do not attract much of a pre-season chatter. Unlike the big boys, they are the one IPL team which stays behind the limelight and perhaps that helps them to come out and execute their gameplan without much external pressure.

This year, going into the IPL 14, so far SRH have no major injury concern to worry about as of now. Their only setback has been Mitchell Marsh pulling out the tournament due to bio-bubble fatigue and he has been replaced by England’s in-form opener Jason Roy, who will be a valued addition to their already mighty top-order.

Earlier, during the off season, SRH didn’t make many changes to their settled squad. Prior to the auction they let go Billy Stanlake, Fabian Allen, and Yarra Prithviraj whereas during the auction they picked up Kedar Jadhav, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and J Suchith on base price.

Getting Kedar on board will possibly solve their middle-order woes. In a top-heavy team like SRH, his experience down the order will be handy as Kedar can be given a role of a finisher alongside the likes of Priyam Garg, Abhishek Sharma and Abdul Samad – who had impressing outings in the UAE last year.

The slow left-arm spin of Suchith will certainly bolster SRH’s Indian spin attack whereas the addition of Mujeeb will further strengthen their Afghan contingent. Though the youngster is unlikely to feature regularly in the playing XI considering the overall balance of the side and of course because of the presence of mighty Rashid Khan, who is their premier strike bowler. However, on a slow-low spinning track if SRH do pick an additional overseas slow bowling option, it will be spectacle to watch the two Afghan spinners bowling in tandem.

Interestingly, SRH did not opt for getting a like-for-like replacement for Billy Stanlake. It suggests they are having faith in their Indian pace bowling contingent.

Making a comeback following a long injury-break, Bhuvneshwar’s recent form against England has certainly been a huge morale booster for SRH management. On those flat batting tracks he was exceptional with the new ball and in the death overs. There is also T Natarajan, who has been revelation in Indian Cricket in past six months. The duo will be assisted by the likes of Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed, Siddharth Kaul and Basil Thampi. Even as bowler Jason Holder had a commanding show last year by picking up 14 wickets in seven games with an economy rate of 8.32.

When it comes to their batting, SRH of course are heavily dependent on their top-four and this season they have plenty of quality options to choose from. Skipper Warner and Manish Pandey will be the automatic picks but amongst Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson and Jason Roy they can maximum accommodate two of them. Last season the New Zealand captain featured in 12 out of SRH’s 16 games and scored 317 runs at and average of 45.28 and strike-rate of 133.75, batting in the middle-order. However, this time with in-form Roy and Bairstow coming into the scheme of things, he is unlikely to be in their first-choice XI, at least in the first half of the tournament.

The other issue which SRH need to tackle this season, is their death over batting. Last year amongst all the eight IPL teams, Sunrisers with an average of 13.43 with a strike-rate of 143.73, had the worst numbers while batting in the 17th to 20th over phase. Considering these data, the management this time will initially bank on their new recruit Kedar to come good. As back-up options they have Mohammad Nabi and Holder but if they want to accommodate one of them, their much-fancied top-order will be disturbed.

Overall, SRH are heading into the IPL 14 as one of the potential playoffs contenders but eventually it will depend on how quickly they can identify their best possible combination and as an unit come into the grooves.

SRH squad for IPL 2021:

David Warner (C), Jonny Bairstow (WK), Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Shreevats Goswami (WK), Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Abdul Samad, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Siddharth Kaul, T Natarajan, Abhishek Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Jason Roy, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Basil Thampi, Jason Holder, Kedar Jadhav, Mujeeb ur Rahman, J Suchith

Sandipan Banerjee is a senior cricket journalist with experience stretching across more than a decade. Having founded a number of cricket information resources and prior experience of working in big-ticket events like ICC Cricket World Cup, IPL and ICC Champions’ Trophy; he joined the team at CricketNews.com in 2019 to provide strategic guidance and to assume a brand ambassador role as principal correspondent. Due to Sandipan’s commitment towards the game, it’s safe to assume that if India are involved in a Test, ODI or a T20I, he’ll be there covering the match!

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