Former champion Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) should continue to be a force to be reckoned with when the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) seasons gets underway from April 9. The playing conditions may have changed — the last season was played entirely in the United Arab Emirates — but given the balance and depth in the lineup, the 2016 champion, led by the flamboyant David Warner, will not be a pushover by any means.
Our correspondents Vijay Lokapally, Shayan Acharya and Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya discuss the men’s side’s season thus far and what to look forward to in the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League.
The SRH performance sheet suggests that the think tank of head coach Trevor Bayliss (World Cup-winning coach for ), bowling coach Muttiah Muralitharan and mentor V. V. S. Laxman has always emphasised on all-round strength. However, not many sides in the IPL can boast the kind of formidable bowling lineup SRH has. Tamil Nadu left-arm pacer T. Natarajan, whose standout performance in IPL 2020 led to a national team call-up across formats for the tour of Australia, should present a more challenging proposition this time around, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar, one of the best T20 bowlers, returns after missing a large part of last season due to injury.
The Sunrisers’ spin department is manned by the Afghan trio of leggie Rashid Khan (right), offie Mohammad Nabi (centre) and new recruit Mujeeb-ur-Rahman (not in picture). – Sportzpics / BCCI
SRH’s abundance of riches in the bowling departments also includes the likes of Sandeep Sharma and West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder, both of whom are capable of winning games on their day.
But it is the spin department manned by the Afghan trio of leggie Rashid Khan, offie Mohammad Nabi and new recruit Mujeeb-ur-Rahman that has the ability to tease and torment the best of batting lineups, with Rashid arguably the most difficult spinner to face in the T20 format.
SRH’s Best buy of 2021
The 19-year-old Afghan off-spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rahman could well be SRH’s best buy of the season given his abundance of talent and experience playing for Kings XI Punjab (renamed Punjab Kings this year). However, he also presents a case of abundance of riches as all three Afghan spinners are unlikely to be picked to play at the same time.
In the batting department, SRH’s opening pair of Australia’s Warner and Englishman Jonny Bairstow can make a mockery of the best attacks, as it has in previous editions of the tournament, with New Zealand captain Kane Williamson slotting in after the duo. If even two of these three get going at the top, half the battle will be won for SRH. And if things go wrong for any of them, the team can always turn to Holder.
An area of concern may be the inconsistency of the Indian batsmen in the lineup despite talents such as Vijay Shankar, Priyam Garg and Abdul Samad. That’s perhaps the reason SRH picked Kedar Jadhav for the coming edition. However, the middle order should benefit from the firepower of Manish Pandey, who scored 425 runs in IPL 2020. Meanwhile, Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh has pulled out of the IPL citing personal reasons and has been replaced by England’s Jason Roy, who was in fine form in the recent series against India.
Ideal Playing XI
David Warner (captain), Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Sandeep Sharma/Siddharth Kaul, Abdul Samad, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, T. Natarajan.