In a display of untempered ambition, Sunrisers Hyderabad seemed to go after every other player at last month’s IPL auction, only to be often outbid at the very last instant. They still managed to get a lot of their old squad back, plus some typically counter-intuitive buys, but minus Rashid Khan and David Warner, how far can Kane Williamson take them with his dodgy elbow?
The franchise has tasted ultimate IPL success twice, in 2009 as Deccan Chargers and in 2016 as Sunrisers Hyderabad. The latter avatar has made the playoffs six times in nine seasons but reached the final only twice. A decent bowling unit short on batting depth was propped up over the years by Warner’s immense productivity, until it all came apart last year. Aided by Shikhar Dhawan, Jonny Bairstow and then Williamson, Warner would drag Sunrisers into the playoffs, where they would crumble against evidently better sides. The likes of Rashid and Bhuvneshwar Kumar could defend even 140 but the brittle middle order could as easily fail to chase the same target if the big guns at the top didn’t fire.
The Caribbean powerhouses 💪
— SunRisers Hyderabad (@SunRisers) March 23, 2022
Warner’s history, so are Rashid, coach Trevor Bayliss and assistant coach Simon Katich in plenty of pre-season flux at the franchise. In the auction, Sunrisers bought back spin allrounder Abhishek Sharma for Rs 6.5 crore and splurged Rs 10.75 crore for keeper-batsman Nicholas Pooran. But yet again, despite the opportunity of a full auction to repair past mistakes, the batting familiarly appears thin on options while the bowling looks relatively well-stocked. The Rashid-sized hole anyway would be hard to fill for any team. It can’t even be said that the only way from a last-place (eighth) finish in 2021 is up as the number of teams has now increased to 10.
— SunRisers Hyderabad (@SunRisers) March 22, 2022
Sunrisers need their Indian batting talent to fire, especially with Williamson’s suspect fitness and some injury concerns among the main bowlers. For far too long, their domestic batsmen have put in mediocre performances, and undone the good work of the overseas batting stars. They almost never fire as a collective batting unit.
Sunrisers have retained Abdul Samad, repurchased Priyam Garg and spent Rs 8.5 crore to get Rahul Tripathi. The runs have to come from them, and Pooran has to quickly turn it around after his horror previous IPL, else Williamson has another long season of rebuilding from collapses ahead of him.