Hyderabad: Sunrisers Hyderabad, runners-up in the 2018 edition of the IPL, covered all the bases ahead of the new season and will be one among the strong contenders in this edition. The Hyderabad franchise which replaced Deccan Chargers in 2013 had made it to the playoffs four times out of six seasons so far, a clear indication of their consistency.
The Orange Army also crowned glory in the 2016 edition under Australian opener David Warner’s leadership defeating Royal Challengers Bangalore by eight runs in the final. The Hyderabad side entered the playoffs in 2017 while in 2018 they reached the final before losing to Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets.
The return of attacking left-hander David Warner following a one-year ban from cricket will be a big boost for the SRH side. The IPL will be an important event for Warner who is looking to find a place in the Aussies squad for the 2019 World Cup. The wounded Australian opener will be more hungry and eager to perform in the IPL.
Meanwhile, last year’s skipper and Orange Cap holder Kane Williamson is nursing a rare grade 1 pectoral minor tear and his IPL participation remains doubtful. With the World Cup approaching, one might just see the New Zealand Cricket board taking precautionary measures.
However, the SRH side doesn’t need to worry much as they have experienced leaders in 2016 SRH captain David Warner and Karnataka skipper Manish Pandey.
Hyderabad side retained their core unit ahead of 2019 auction. They traded England wicket-keeper batsman Jonny Bairstow (Rs 2.20 crore) and New Zealand opener Martin Guptill (Rs 1 crore). SRH also bought Indian wicket-keeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha (Rs 5 crore) after releasing him ahead of the auctions.
The Orange Army also released Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan to Delhi Capitals in favour of left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, Indian all-rounder Vijay Shankar and 18-year-old batting all-rounder Abhishek Sharma.
Shankar, coming into IPL after some impressive performances in the ODI series against Australia and New Zealand, will look to cement his place in the Indian side for the 2019 ICC World Cup in England and this is his chance to stake claim for the Number 4 batting spot. Indian discard Manish Pandey, who led Karnataka to Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 Tournament title, will also have a point to prove in the IPL.
The presence of hard hitters in Yusuf Pathan and Deepak Hooda along with Afghanistan’s spin sensation Rashid Khan, also a handy batsman is a positive factor for the SRH.
Sunrisers bowling unit is unarguably one of the best in the IPL and have proven their worth by defending small targets in the previous seasons. The pace bowling led by Indian star Bhuvneshwar Kumar has some impressive names such as left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed, Punjab’s Siddarth Kaul, right-arm medium pace bowler Sandeep Sharma and Kerala’s Basil Thampi who delivered for the Orange Army in the past.
The spin department boasts of Afghanistan’s ever-reliable Rashid Khan, left-arm orthodox Shahbaz Nadeem who had a great Ranji season and Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.
Shakib fractured his left little finger in the Bangladesh Premier League final and his participation at least in the initial stages of the IPL is not confirmed. In Shakib’s absence, the SRH can make use of Afghanistan’s all-rounder Mohammad Nabi and Indian all-rounders Yusuf Pathan and Deepak Hooda in bowling.
The Orange Army, trained by former Australian all-rounder Tom Moody has the potential to go the distance yet again because of the quality in their squad.