Sunrisers Hyderabad have had a roller-coaster ride in the Indian Premier League since its inception in 2013, the highest point of which came last year when the David Warner-led outfit rallied to the title. After last season's success, the Sunrisers would be looking to avoid their occasional dips and become a more consistent force in the league.
The pace battery comprising of Ashish Nehra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mustafizur Rahman and Barinder Sran more often than not provided a winning platform for the Hyderabad outfit with their disciplined performances. All four of these players didn't start every game, but each one of them did well when they came into the side to fill in for the other. Ahead of the player auctions for the 10th season, there's no surprise that all four of them have been retained by the defending champions.
Presence of all-rounders Ben Cutting and Moises Henriques ensures that the Sunrisers don't need to worry about the pace department. A balance of Rs 20.9 crore in their kitty gives a good reading, and having retained 17 players, the Sunrisers have the liberty to go all out to grab their targets. Looking at the quality in the current squad, they only need to acquire a limited number of players.
Apart from their brilliant bowling attack, the other factor which contributed to their success was the form of captain David Warner. The Australian hammered 848 runs for the Sunrisers last year to hold the record for the most number of runs in a single IPL season. His battling knock in the second qualifier when the Sunrisers were staring down the barrel while chasing a stiff Gujarat Lions total helped them reach the final against all odds.
However, apart from the Warner, the rest of the batting was patchy. The Sunrisers, though, would be hoping that the likes of Kane Williamson and Shikhar Dhawan would fire in the upcoming season. Moreover, Yuvraj Singh's return to form comes as a huge boost for the Sunrisers, with the left-handed batsmen set to provide their middle order with much-needed muscle.
The top order requires no addition as it picks itself, however, they could take a punt on young batting sensation Prithvi Shaw after the Mumbai batsmen impressed in the domestic season recently. Sunrisers may find themselves a bit short with the lack of batting options in their lower middle order. The additions of the like of Saurabh Tiwary and Pawan Negi, could help with the latter also providing the added option with the ball.
Warner's men could find themselves in trouble if wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha suffers an injury. Their squad doesn't have another recognised wicketkeeper and they would do well to add cover in that department. Sri Lanka's in-form player Niroshan Dickwelle could be a smart buy. He averaged 44 in the recent T20I series against South Africa and has a base price of just Rs 30 lakh. He could plug the gap lower down the Sunrisers' order and having played as an opener for his national side, he could also keep Dhawan on his toes. The Sunrisers, who released Aditya Tare, could be forced to buy him back if they decide to have an Indian back-up for Naman Ojha.
The one area where the Sunrisers are really thin is the spin department. With the pacers coming to the fore last season, the Sunrisers got away despite being a spinner short. So, heading into the new season, they must strengthen this aspect of their squad. Imrah Tahir, who tops the ICC charts for bowlers in this format, would obviously be a target. His wicket-taking abilities coupled with the discipline of the Sunrisers pacers would make their attack almost unplayable.
Mitchell Santner of New Zealand, who impressed during the World T20 last season, along with teammate Ish Sodhi, are good alternatives. Pragyan Ojha, who starred for the city's previous IPL franchise Deccan Chargers during their title-winning season, is available at Rs 30 lakh. But with over Rs 20 crore in their purse and a spinner being their prime target, they could go all out for one and get the best one on offer, which is obviously Tahir.
The Sunrisers have shipped out the unwanted and will be on the lookout for better substitutes in the auction. With the strong core of their squad intact, the defending champions would be seeking for crucial additions when the players go under the hammer in Bengaluru on 20 February.
A specialist spinner and some smart yet quality additions to the batting line-up would make this Sunrisers squad almost indomitable and with a strong financial muscle, the Sunrisers might not find it very hard to get the players they want. It's time to be positive if you are a Sunrisers fan, but a time to be very nervous if you are not.
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Updated Date: Feb 19, 2017 12:18:03 IST