As another edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) kicks off, Sunrisers Hyderabad will be hoping that the sun finally rises on a franchise that has struggled to make an impact since its inception in 2013. Sunrisers will open their campaign with a match against Royal Challengers Bangalore on 12 April.
And while the owners have sought to give the side the balance it lacked in 2015, the big question will still be over the heavy investment made on Yuvraj Singh. The franchise offered as much as Rs 7 crore to acquire the services of the left handed all-rounder from Chandigarh. Especially with news coming in that the ankle injury he sustained in the World T20 will force him to miss the first two weeks of the IPL, it remains to be seen if Sunrisers's gamble pays dividends.
It also remains to be seen if an ageing Ashish Nehra can deliver the goods for Hyderabad, which desperately needs a good run this season.
Last season, they finished sixth, despite captain David Warner taking the Orange Cap with 562 runs. Warner has also done well to establish himself as the leader of a team that looks good on paper. Helping him out will be coach Tom Moody, bowling coach Muttiah Muralitharan and team mentor VVS Laxman.
The batting looks solid — apart from Warner, there are Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson, Eoin Morgan, Naman Ojha and Yuvraj Singh, a top-order that looks like it can withstand the best of attacks.
However, there are a couple of weak links, giving cause for some concern to the team management. Yuvraj and Morgan have both been in mediocre form of late and their ability to contribute to the team will remain a question until they step up and start performing.
With only four overseas players allowed to be in the playing XI, Yuvraj needs to step up and start delivering. Especially following the Rs 16 crore debacle Delhi Daredevils had with Yuvraj last year, SRH have shown enormous courage in spending another Rs 7 crore on him.
In the bowling department, Nehra and Trent Boult are a strong opening combination, offering pace and variation, besides the experience to deal with the death overs as well. In Deepak Hooda and Moises Henriques, they have two solid all-rounders who could be part of the core XI throughout the tournament.
Henriques, especially, was in great form last year, claiming 11 wickets at 14.36. Hooda is also a promising young all-rounder, with the potential for some strong performances with bat and ball.
In Ricky Bhui, T Suman and Aditya Tare, they have a strong Indian bench strength, should the need to bolster resources arise. It will be important that the management takes an objective decision about Yuvraj and ensure he doesn't block a spot in the playing XI without deserving it.
The youngsters also offer Hyderabad exciting opportunities to juggle the order and make quick changes as and when needed. Bhui, Suman and Tare have all done well domestically and have great potential.
Yuvraj and Williamson will also be expected to roll their arm over. With Hooda also expected to make it to the playing XI, that makes it three batsmen capable of contributing with the ball.
Mustafizur Rahman made a strong case for a bowling spot with his recent exploits in the WT20 championship. Karn Sharma and Abhimanyu Mithun are no pushovers and will ensure competition within the team is tight. Barinder Sran is also rated highly for his intelligent medium pacers.
Morgan’s recent patchy form and limitations on foreigners playing in the XI will dictate that Warner, Williamson, Boult and Henriques are likely to be the four overseas players. Dhawan should open with Warner, with Williamson coming in at number three. One feels that Bhui and Yuvraj might take up numbers four and five. Henriques can bring up the back end of a strong middle-order. Hooda and Naman Ojha will be tasked with producing quickfire runs towards the end overs, the former also tasked with bowling duties and Ojha standing behind the sticks. With Nehra and Boult certain to start, that just leaves us with one slot up for grabs, and it's likely to be a toss-up between Abhimanyu Mithun and Barinder Sran for the final place on the team sheet.
Overall, with the resources available at its disposal, Sunrisers Hyderabad look set to make a greater impression on this edition of the IPL than it has in the past.
First Published On : Apr 12, 2016 15:58 IST