The Sunrisers Hyderabad are looking to pick themselves up after two grim seasons. You can sense the hunger. They have moved away from their celebrated trio of overseas cricketers - David Warner, Rashid Khan and Kane Williamson in the span of two years.
With some intentful bidding in the past two auctions, they have filled the batting cartel with fresh and exciting faces. Mayank Agarwal, Harry Brook and Heinrich Klaasen have joined the crew alongside Aiden Markram, Rahul Tripathi and Glenn Phillips from the last year.
That is just the batting we are talking about. A handful of additions in the bowling department barring a bonafide pace bowling all-rounder gives their side an all-round look. Add Markram to that, as the captain.
Hyderabad are a team in transition with plenty of players who have a point to prove, be it the youngsters such as Abhishek Sharma or the experienced pros in Mayank and Adil Rashid.
Known to be a boring side from their preceding years, Hyderabad holds plenty of exciting possibilities ahead of this season, and a team to watch out for this season. Could they go all the way?
Have they plugged the gap?
SRH underperformed in many facets last season but their spin bowling returns were rather embarrassing. They had the worst economy for a spin bowling attack (8.7) alongside the second worst bowling average (34.9).
Fair to say, they have covered that with the signings of Adil Rashid and Mayank Markande. Acquiring both overseas and Indian options provides more flexibility to their possible XI. There is also the variety of a left-arm spin in Akeal Hosein. And they had to spend only INR 3.5 crore to create these valuable options.
SRH headed into the auction with the largest purse which allowed them to replace Kane Williamson with a propitious Brooks, even if they had to shell out INR 13.25 crore. And Mayank’s inclusion bolsters them further to attack in the powerplay. Their powerplay strike-rate of 117.1 was the lowest in IPL 2022.
An out-and-out pace bowling all-rounder remains missing, but with intent and a hefty budget, SRH have covered more or less all bases, required for the championship.
What can win them the title?
SRH’s biggest plus point is their flexibility. Like some other teams, they won’t need to limit themselves to one combination and can weave their XI according to the conditions. On pace-friendly tracks, they can simply field four seamers with an overseas frontline paceman clubbed with three Indian pacers.
They can also play one overseas seamer, two Indian pacers and a leg-spinner in the side, replacing Rashid with Markande. If some batters don’t click, SRH have enough Indian pacers to instill all their overseas firepower in the batting department itself. Overall, SRH’s bench strength possesses ample quality to respond to different conditions and the indifferent form of any player in the first-choice XI.
What do they need to work out
A couple of pointers here with some risk factors attached. SRH have a new coach in Brian Lara for whom it will be his first season as a full-time coach. In his young career thus far, Markram has won the U19 World Cup and the inaugural SA20 season as a skipper. However, leading an IPL franchise in a 14-league game long tournament is a different task altogether. There is an air of inexperience around SRH’s coach-captain combo that they will need to work out quite early in the season.
Markram’s form will be key otherwise the complications attached to an overseas captain can come to the surface.
Secondly, two of their key pacers are injury prone. T Natarajan, their death over specialist, last played professional cricket in October 2022. Bhuvneshwar Kumar last played in November 2022. The uncertainty around their most experienced Indian pacers frames their bowling as a potential threat.
Although SRH have plenty of fast bowling personnel at their disposal, they need the fitness of Natarajan and Bhuvi to stay intact.
SRH won’t mind the return of home and away fixtures. Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium has an economy rate of 7.9 and a bowling average of only 25.4 for pacers, the best among all IPL venues since 2016. SRH hold plenty of pace up their sleeves to make full use of that. It will suit Umran Malik in particular. The outfield here is big which will prevent his pace from traveling to the ropes.
Nearly eight out of 11 spots in SRH’s squad pick themselves. And they have more than one option for the other slots. The decision they will have to take includes; which wicketkeeper to play between Glenn Phillips and Heinrich Klaasen, who is the third seamer between Kartik Tyagi and Natarajan, four pacers or one spinner in Rashid or Markande.
As stated above, playing Markande will allow them to play an overseas frontline seamer.
SRH’s South African players will miss the first game due to international commitments. That means the skipper Markram won’t be available for their opening fixture against Rajasthan Royals on April 2.
The franchise hasn’t announced a vice-captain but it should be either Mayank or Bhuvneshwar Kumar. For Klaasen, there is a like-for-like replacement in Phillips. For Marco Jansen, there is Fazalhaq Farooqui.