Can middle-order provide the much-needed support to top-heavy SRH in this season’s Indian Premier League?
Sunrisers Hyderabad have been consistently maintaining their status as a major threat over the last few seasons. The David Warner-led side has been known for their abilities to make life difficult for opponents. They have established a name for themselves in defending small totals. Backed by solid bowling, Sunrisers maintain the pressure on the opponents from the word go, hardly giving them room to swing at the ball. With a good mix of Indian and foreign batsmen, the batting department looks equally strong for the Orange Army. Let us analyse the strengths and the weaknesses of SRH this season:
The Orange Army have traditionally possessed a strong top-order. The same trend continues in the current season. With skipper Warner leading from front, they have Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson and Manish Pandey at the top of the pile. The Australian-English opening combination of Warner and Bairstow can cause nightmare to opponent bowlers.
Willamson coming at No.3, followed by Pandey, SRH have a strong foundation to exploit the powerplay. In the past, Wriddhiman Saha has also opened for them and has been fairly consistent in whatever role he has been asked to play. It will not be a bad option to have him as a back-up if needed. The destructive top-order is the biggest weapon for SRH going into this IPL.
Their heavy reliance on top-order has cost them dearly in the past IPLs. The middle-order has struggled to support the good start provided by the big-hitters above them. It will be too much to ask the Top-4 to score the runs in every game. The likes of Virat Singh, Abhishek Sharma, Abdul Samad and Priyam Garg have to step-up. But their lack of exposure at the top level could become a problem for SRH. Even though they have age on their side to grow into the role, it will be a big risk to rely on them to finish the games.
It goes without saying that lack of finishers is a major concern for SRH. Mohammad Nabi, Jason Holder and Mitchell Marsh have the potential to finish the matches. However, it is unclear how many matches the three of them will play together due to the overseas quota. Kedar Jadhav’s addition can help them in bringing stability to the middle-order. However, Jadhav is never known for his explosive batting, meaning the player from the other end will have to do the hard-hitting in tight situations.
Going into the 2019 ODI World Cup, Vijay Shankar was a vital cog in India’s starting line-up. Injuries and indifferent form have hampered the all-rounder’s growth. With the ability to bat and bowl, Shankar can be the x-factor in any team. If the 30-year-old can stay injury free, and reach the heights of his past success, he can sort out SRH’s middle-order crisis. With the T20 World Cup not far away, IPL 2021 is Shankar’s final chance to catch the eye of the selectors.
Beyond the weak middle-order, SRH will be hoping for an injury-free IPL campaign. With many players unable to play the full season last year, SRH had to frequently change the starting line-up. Former Purple Cap winner Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Vijay Shankar will be eager to remain fit throughout the season. It will be imperative for SRH to have these two available regularly. With both being domestic players, they don’t have a lot to worry about the foreign quota if these two can overcome their recent injury niggles.
Jagadeesha Suchith is a seasoned all-rounder at the domestic level. He has struggled to establish himself at other IPL teams in the past. Thanks to SRH’s unreliable middle-order, he might get regular opportunities in the playing XI. This could very well be the season in which Suchith might establish himself as an IPL regular.
David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Shreevats Goswami, Wriddhiman Saha, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Mohammad Nabi, Vijay Shankar, Kedar Jadhav, Mitchell Marsh, Jason Holder, Abdul Samad, Rashid Khan, Abhishek Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Siddarth Kaul, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Khaleel Ahmed, T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma, Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jagadeesha Suchith.