No matter what was thrown at them, the Sunrisers Hyderabad continued to dig deep, find fuel in their reserves and came out on top led by an astute reader of the game, smart captain and a fine batsman in Kane Williamson.
While five teams competed for a spot in the playoffs till the penultimate day of the league stage, Sunrisers’ consistent performances saw them qualify almost two weeks before the league stage came to an end.
Losing their talismanic captain David Warner to a ban just days ahead of the tournament was a massive setback for the Hyderabad side.
In Williamson, they found their new captain, who was struggling to find a place in the XI in previous years of the IPL. Since his IPL debut in 2015, the Kiwi had played in just 15 matches spread across three seasons, scoring three fifties. In 2018 alone, the 27-year old has represented Sunrisers in 14 games having scored eight fifties already.
In the initial phase of the competition, it was the Sunrisers bowlers who choked opposition down to low totals making life simpler for their batsmen. Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings changed the trend by posting formidable scores and putting the SRH batting under the pump.
By Williamson’s own admission of having played on some ‘scrappy’ surfaces, he moved his team’s attention to adaptability and the Black Caps skipper led the way.
Sunrisers bowlers again showed their bowling depth almost as to cover for their feeble batting and defended low scores like 118, 132 and 151 and 146 against powerful batting lineups in Mumbai Indians, Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively.
In a long tournament, they simply couldn’t rely on bowling and with Williamson has been inspirational with the bat leading his team to victories almost single-handedly. Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Alex Hales too found some form with the bat in few games that helped their captain and team register wins.
However, their top order consuming most of the deliveries has put a veil over the side’s inconsistent middle order. And barring few handy knocks from the likes of Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan and Deepak Hooda, they have had an ordinary time.
Wrist spinner Rashid Khan and pacer Siddarth Kaul have been pillars of Sunrisers bowling brigade, with Shakib, Sandeep Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has had to battle injuries, have all played their parts.
Entering the final leg of the tournament on the back of three consecutive defeats, doesn’t bore well for the 2016 champions. However, wicket-keeper, Sreevats Goswami, who replaced injured Wriddhiman Saha into the playing XI, believes ‘game on that day’ is what is important in the qualifiers and the league stage momentum doesn’t count for much.
To secure an early claim of making it to the finals, Sunrisers will have to do something they haven’t been able to do this season, beat MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings. CSK sre only team to have beaten the Orange Army in both their fixtures this season.