By Karthik Parimal
It was a quiet start for new entrants Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 auctions. Having succeeded the now defunct Deccan Chargers to field a team from Hyderabad, they entered the fray early, but failed to bag a deal till Thisara Perera came along. Perhaps there was a well-disguised move to attempt to constrain the salary caps of other franchises, but they refrained on quite a few occasions from going all out to rope in a player they desired. Nevertheless, their purchases were frugal, and there is a possibility that some of the new hires could turn out to be the dark horses of the tournament.
The new management didn’t tamper with the line-up that earlier represented Deccan Chargers. None of the players were released, but the staff managing the entourage certainly got a facelift. Darren Lehmann made way for the experienced Tom Moody, whereas Krishnamachari Srikkanth was appointed the team’s mentor and VVS Laxman its mentor-ambassador.
It makes sense to include Laxman in the scheme of things, since few know Hyderabad cricket as well as he does. The side does not feature a lot of locals, and it could hence play a big role in bridging the connectivity between fans and the team. Srikkanth, with all his experience serving as the chairman of selectors of the national side until recently, could be handy in the management.
On the other hand, Moody’s coaching credentials are well documented. Not long ago, he was Sri Lanka’s national coach, and his relationship with Kumar Sangakkara – who is touted to lead the Sunrisers Hyderabad this year – could play a vital role in the team’s performance on the field. Moody also coached the Kings XI Punjab in the first two seasons of the IPL, and hence there is little doubt that he is well-versed with the ways of the tournament.
Prior to the auction, Sunrisers Hyderabad could fill eight and five slots for the Indian and overseas players respectively. They had a salary cap of just a little over seven million dollars. The committee led by Moody, Laxman and Srikkanth, fiercely tried to bag young Abhishek Nayar, but in vain. The breakthrough finally came when Thisara Perera was acquired for $675,000.
Next, West Indian skipper Darren Sammy was welcomed on board for $425,000. His fellow teammate Fidel Edwards, who had earlier been a part of Deccan Chargers’ setup, went to Rajasthan Royals. It is well known that Sammy is a cricketer who rarely holds back from giving his best, and it is this contagious positive attitude that could be a shot in the arm whenever the team’s chips are down.
The only Indian player to have been bought by Hyderabad during the auction was Sudeep Tyagi. He was earlier a part of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), where he seldom tasted success, being a small fish in a big pond. However, he could have a significant role to play at Hyderabad.
Quinton de Kock and Nathan McCullum were the other two all-rounders, whereas Australia’s Clint McKay was chosen as Dale Steyn’s deputy in the bowling department. Quinton de Kock’s recent exploits for South Africa should have made him a strong contender during the initial round of auction itself, but it could augur well that Hyderabad made an about turn to rope him in. But whether he will be one of the four overseas players to take field remains to be seen.
A formidable bowling attack
Steyn is undoubtedly the spearhead of the bowling line-up. He was a force to reckon with during last year’s IPL, and one of the very few players from Deccan Chargers who stood up to make a statement. 18 wickets from twelve innings at a staggering average of 15.83 is evidence of that fact.
Ishant Sharma was sidelined due to injury last season, but he now has an opportunity to share the load of responsibilities. It was Aashish Reddy and Veer Pratap Singh who chipped in with wickets in Ishant’s absence back then, and if they can manage to replicate such performances this time around, alongside Amit Mishra, then the Sunrisers can boast of an attack equivalent to any good line-up in the IPL.
It’s the batting that continues to remain an area of bother. If the overseas players are taken out of the equation, then Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel are the only two recognised batsmen. In a game as abridged as T20, a lot of importance is rightly attached to batting, and that is where the team continues to have its shortcomings. Sangakkara has been looked upon as a messiah, but in the past, circumstances have forced him to consolidate more often than not.
There are less than two months remaining before the IPL commences, and if the Sunrisers are considering further transfers or deals prior to that, then emphasis must be laid on strengthening the batting unit. Nonetheless, it can safely be said that the current group no longer looks an insipid one.
(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)