Few stat nuggets sum up Sunrisers Hyderabad's 2019 IPL journey. David Warner was part of all of the seven half-century partnerships and five century partnerships that Sunrisers had. Four of the five century stands that the franchise made last season came from Warner and Jonny Bairstow for the opening wicket.
The over-dependence on Warner and Bairstow was so glaring that the two scored more than 1,000 runs combined while the rest of the batsmen could muster only there and thereabouts of what the openers did.
Kane Williamson was in and out of the team owing to injury and Manish Pandey blew hot and cold the entire season. Vijay Shankar and Deepak Hooda threatened to fire but did not quite manage to do so and the latter was released ahead of the IPL 2020 Auction.
Once the opposition saw the back of the openers, Sunrisers were vulnerable with an evident lack of solidarity in the middle-order. This was their major concern throughout the season with the bowling stepping up once again despite Bhuvneshwar Kumar's off-season.
Khaleel Ahmed's exceptional season added some much-needed sting to their attack. Sandeep Sharma was also useful but Siddharth Kaul and Basil Thampi left a lot to be desired. With the Afghanistan duo of Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi in their elements, Sunrisers managed to be formidable enough with the ball in hand.
Losing the Eliminator to Delhi Capitals was a huge blow to Hyderabad's reputation. Plugging the holes in the middle-order and inserting temperament and resilience would be the top priority for SRH this season.
Players Released: Deepak Hooda, Martin Guptill, Ricky Bhui, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan
Current Squad: Abhishek Sharma, Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Billy Stanlake, David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Shreevats Goswami, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, T Natarajan, Vijay Shankar, Wriddhiman Saha
How they shape up: Rs 17 crore available, seven slots to fill (two overseas).
Sunrisers Hyderabad had to let go of Shakib Al Hasan, who is serving a ban, but he might have been released any way. Martin Guptill, a stop-gap pick for Warner and Bairstow, misfired and was duly dumped. Guptill got only three games last season and made a top score of 36, but there was enough evidence to suggest he didn't fit the franchise's dynamics.
Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan – major elements in their unstable middle-order – were also released ahead of the auction. The duo averaged 10.66 and 13.33 respectively while their strike rates – 101.58 and 88.8 – were below par given their roles in the side.
Shakib played three matches, batted once and gave runs away at an economy of 8.76. They wouldn't be too concerned about the need to replace a superstar like him with an equally big buy.
Sunrisers don't have a huge budget going into the auction, but they only have two overseas slots to fill up. A team that loves having a stable line-up, Sunrisers have focused on building relationships with their players over the years. Like Chennai Super Kings or Mumbai Indians, they aren't a team to let go of their trusted lieutenants after one poor season. Their auction strategy could involve identifying players who could be assets over a long period of time.
Major holes to plug
The one glaring hole in Sunrisers' line-up is the middle-order. In Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar, Sunrisers assumed that they had a stable middle-order last season. There were questions about who would don the finisher role with Pathan, Hooda and Abhishek Sharma identified as potential candidates.
But, they were in for a major shock as neither stability nor flamboyance materialised. The onus of giving the team a total rested completely on Warner and Bairstow. Pandey's zig-zag graph in terms of form and Shankar's swag-filled 20s did not help their cause.
Sunrisers have too many one-dimensional players with questionable T20 reputations in that middle-order. With Bairstow, Warner, Williamson and Rashid filling up the four overseas slots, there's no room for someone like Mohammad Nabi, who could lend the middle-order some much-needed flair.
Such is the make-up of their squad that any overseas player they pick will only be a back-up to the four important one. Also, splurging in this area might not be feasible. Instead, they might want to dip their feet deep into the domestic pool and find some handy batsmen capable of anchoring as well as stepping on the accelerator when needed.
In the quest to plug the middle-order, Sunrisers will not want to forget that they still need to have a plan B if Warner or Bairstow have an off-season. With Wriddhiman Saha and Williamson capable of taking on the responsibility, they wouldn't want to go for a high-profile pick, but a solid pick for the future could be on the radar.
A similar area of concern would be covering up for someone like Shakib. While there's no way a new overseas player can be a regular in their starting line-up, unless of course there's an injury, Sunrisers would want to have some security options on the bench. Utility players who can step up in multiple roles could also be a priority for them this auction.
Who should be on the radar?
Sure, he remains a one-season wonder as of now, but in a high-quality Karnataka line-up, the 25-year old Rohan Kadam stood out with his ability to rise when the chips were down. A stunning average of 49.62 after 20 T20 matches underlines his consistency.
More importantly, the role he performed in the Karnataka side is something Sunrisers sorely need to fill this season. Walking in behind the top-order big guns, Kadam made an impact with his reasonable strike rate and smart game play.
With eight half-centuries in 19 innings, his T20 career reeks of consistency and it is exactly what Sunrisers require this season from their middle-order batsmen.
A batsman who can step up and bowl his quota of overs if needed, Baba Aparajith is a utility player who has built a solid reputation over the years. At 25, he is at the peak of his powers as it was seen in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year.
Aparajith made 598 runs in 12 matches in the Vijay Hazare while averaging 66.44 and coupled it up with 11 wickets coming at an economy of only 4.39. He made a couple of solid knocks in the subsequent Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament where his determination in a 25-ball 40 in the finals stood out.
In a line-up where middle-order consistency has gone for a toss, Aparajith can be a reliable pick. Given his all-round potential, he could well give the captain a couple of overs too.
The Under-19 opening batsman who made a solid impact in the Vijay Hazare Trophy with Mumbai, Jaiswal could be on the radar of a lot of IPL sides this season. But no other team probably need his services as much as Sunrisers.
The Men in Orange have a solid opening duo but it's always good to have back-ups. Guptill was assigned to be the guy last season but the plan fell apart. Somebody like Jaiswal, who has long-term potential, will be on Sunrisers' radar this auction.
In October 2019, he entered the record books by becoming the youngest batsman to score a List A double hundred. A 319 not out at school level had earlier shot him to fame and helped him enter the fray in Mumbai's Under-16 squad. An India Under-19 call-up followed soon after and he shone in the ACC Under-19 Asia Cup in 2018.
A regular with Mumbai in the Vijay Hazare this year, Jaiswal made 564 runs at an average of 112.8, finishing fifth in the top run-getters chart. With three hundreds and three fifties in 13 innings, Jaiswal impressed at the top in the company of Aditya Tare, Jay Bista and Siddhesh Lad. While he is yet to play a T20 game, Jaiswal will be identified as a long-term option at the top of the order.
That said, if Sunrisers feel they do need a back-up in the mould of Guptill, South Africa's Reeza Hendricks could be a decent pick with his performances in the Mzansi Super League and for South Africa attracting attention in the last one year.
A gun T20 player, JP Duminy went unsold in the IPL 2019 auction despite a remarkable record in the league. With an average close to 40 and a strike rate in the mid-120s, Duminy is a utility player who can contribute with the ball and go berserk in the death overs.
A less than impressive performance in IPL 2018 for Mumbai Indians cost him his place in the league but after a promising Caribbean Premier League in 2019, Duminy could be in for a return to the IPL. In 12 matches for the Barbados Tridents, Duminy has made 291 runs at an average above 30 while striking at 136.6.
He has also been handy with the ball and Sunrisers might seek him as a like-for-like replacement for Shakib. The South African might not attract too many bidders which means that if Sunrisers do go for him, he might come at a cheap price.
Sunrisers might have their eyes on a players like Ashton Turner. The ex-Rajasthan Royals player is the kind of finisher Sunrisers missed last season. He's capable of dropping anchor or going hammer and tongs in the death, like he showed in a 43-ball 84 against India last year.
What might deter Sunrisers, though, is his dubious record from last time around. Five ducks on the trot in T20 cricket is a rarity for a batsman and Turner managed to distance every single T20 contract with that streak. Nevertheless, he is a quality player and Sunrisers have the support staff to identify the perfect role for him in the line-up.
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