A season Sunrisers Hyderabad would wish to erase from their history

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09 Oct 2021 | 04:48 AM
authorAnirudh Suresh

A season Sunrisers Hyderabad would wish to erase from their history

Everything that could go wrong went wrong for Trevor Bayliss’ side

In its 14-year history, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has seen many straightforward predictions go horribly wrong, but Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) finishing bottom of IPL 2021 with just six points is something no one saw coming. Not only did SRH have an impressively strong finish to IPL 2020, they also had one of the most settled squads. 

So settled they were heading into the new season that they remarkably spent under 4 crore in the auction. And after the fixtures had them playing predominantly in the slow and low wickets of Delhi and Chennai, many an expert even had them finishing in the top two. 

But sport always finds a way to surprise the common man. In this case, it has left fans dumbfounded and shocked. 

Everything about SRH felt ‘off’ from the very first match, and with every passing game, the franchise seemed to lose a part of its identity. By the time the last match of the season beckoned, the team, once known for its ability to defend low scores and grit out victories, became so unrecognizable that there was genuine optimism among Mumbai fans of their team scoring 300 and bundling SRH out for 120-odd.

That eventually did not happen, but for the first time in five years, Sunrisers Hyderabad looked like a franchise in desperate need of a complete overhaul.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s what is needed if they are to get back to competing with the big guns again. 

What went wrong

So much went wrong for SRH that a separate dissertation could be written, focusing on their woes in IPL 2021. They ended bottom of the charts on the batting front and second-to-bottom on the bowling front. They were the only side to not have a single batsman score even 300 runs. Indeed it is unsurprising, for they ended up winning only three matches all season.

But the primary reason why things went south for the franchise is the complete no-show of David Warner the batman.

SRH has always been a side with flaws, but all the shortcomings were masked by the extraordinary showing of one man, who, year after year, put up superhuman numbers. For once he had a ‘human’ season, and that was all it took for the franchise to fall apart. Warner endured arguably the worst ever IPL season of his career, and the Sunrisers’ bank broke.

The 500 runs Warner guaranteed every season was not to be, and to the franchise’s utter dismay, no other batter stood up.  Pandey and Williamson both had a handful of ‘good’ knocks, but ultimately the two of them did not score when it mattered and failed to carry the team like Warner did in the past half-a-decade. 

The Saha experiment from IPL 2020 did not work, and the youngsters who impressed last season looked like they’d stalled. The only person who had a positive impact was Jonny Bairstow, but he did not take to the field in the second half after opting to stay back home. In short, for SRH, batting was non-existent. 

It was not just the batters who were the culprits, however. For SRH’s bowling turned out to be equally bad.

Both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Sandeep Sharma endured their worst ever IPL seasons, while the breakthrough star from IPL 2020, T Natarajan, missed almost the entire season, first due to injury and then due to Covid. Rashid Khan and Jason Holder were both consistent, but that was about it. The duo got no support whatsoever from any of the other bowlers, and in every match opposition batters had about 8-12 ‘zero pressure’ overs where runs were easy to come by.

With a non-existent batting line-up and a bowling unit that was impotent, SRH simply had nowhere to hide. And as it turned out, they got exposed in the most humiliating manner imaginable. 

What worked

Harsh as it may sound, IPL 2021 was a season in which nothing worked for SRH. Had even something worked, they would not have won just three matches all season.

But still, if we are to be generous, the Sunrisers got good value out of their replacement players. That is the only thing that ‘worked’ for them all season. 

Both Umran Malik and Jason Roy debuted only after the franchise had been knocked out, still the duo played a part in two of the three wins the side managed to garner in the second half.

Roy played significant hands in both of SRH’s wins in the second half (60 vs RR and 44 vs RCB), while Malik’s 1/21 vs the Royal Challengers helped the side defend 141 and restore some amount of pride. 

Rashid and Holder, as mentioned already, had excellent seasons, but that is about it. Starting from team selection to tactics, the entire season was a huge miss. A 1/10 campaign, you could say.

Biggest surprise 

Without an iota of doubt, Umran Malik. The 21-year-old was roped in as a short-term Covid replacement for T Natarajan, but by the end of his debut, he had the entire world talking about him. 

Malik breached the 150 kph mark in his very first game, and in game two he set a new record for the fastest delivery of IPL 2021. With his pace, the youngster hurried even the best of batters, and he even got special words of praise from Indian skipper Virat Kohli.

Not many cricketers leave a telling impression in three matches, but Umran Malik managed to do so.

Biggest disappointment(s)

Fingers can be pointed at the Sunrisers’ overseas batters, but the harsh reality is that they were let down by their Indian batting core. 

Manish Pandey aside, no Indian batter even remotely showed any promise, and batted as if they did not belong at the highest level. 

Wriddhiman Saha, Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav turned out to be immeasurable disappointments, while Abhishek Sharma, Priyam Garg, Virat Singh and Abdul Samad threw away a multitude of golden opportunities to win matches for the side and skyrocket their own stocks. 

There is no denying that some of these players were mismanaged at some point in the season, but there really is no excuse for averaging under 17.00 when you’ve batted a half-a-dozen times.

Players who could be retained

With David Warner’s love-story with Hyderabad having all but come to an end, Rashid Khan, as things stand, is the only overseas player who is guaranteed to be retained. Kane Williamson also could be retained, but there is every chance of SRH instead pursuing an Indian captain at the Mega Auction after what unfolded in IPL 2021. Barring these two, there are no overseas players the franchise would even ponder retaining.

On the Indian front, the franchise might likely retain one among Bhuvneshwar Kumar and T Natarajan, while they might also be tempted to take a gamble on Umran Malik, who is guaranteed to fetch big bucks at the mega auction. 

After their grim showing in IPL 2021, SRH might most likely retain no Indian batters, although there could be a slim chance of the franchise keeping the services of Abdul Samad, whose natural hitting ability makes him a one-of-a-kind, rare talent. 

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Indian Premier League, 2021Sunrisers HyderabadKane WilliamsonDavid WarnerBhuvneshwar KumarUmran MalikManish PandeyAbdul SamadRashid KhanJason Holder

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