Sunrisers Hyderabad have been below par in IPL 7 © IANS
One of the most successful teams of the Indian Premier League in 2013, the Sunrisers Hyderabad have struggled in the three games that they have played this year. Shiamak Unwalla looks at the ideal combination for the fourth-placed team of IPL 6.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have one of the strongest bowling sides in Indian Premier League (IPL) 7 on paper. One look at their bowling line-up gives you an indication about it. Led by the indomitable Dale Steyn and backed up by the likes of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Karn Sharma, Ishant Sharma, and Darren Sammy, the SRH bowling line-up looks like should be able to skittle out opposition batsmen for paltry scores on most occasions.
However, in the three matches that they have played so far, SRH have conceded 193 and 180, and have failed to defend 133. For a side that has one of the best bowling sides on paper, this has been a huge let-down. While bowling is obviously their stronger suit, their batting has been far from impressive as well. Barring the colossal 128-run partnership between David Warner and Aaron Finch in their last match, Hyderabad’s batting has looked markedly ordinary.
And herein lies their dilemma. In the first match they played, against the Rajasthan Royals (RR), they had Ishant in their line-up. In their second match, against current table-toppers Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), SRH brought in Irfan Pathan in his place. In their third game, against the Delhi Daredevils (DD), they brought in Naman Ojha instead of Irfan. In all three matches, the rest of the team has stayed the same. This shows that the Sunrisers are still not sure about the team they want to play. What is most peculiar is that they have yet to try out new batsmen. Their current line-up is extremely top-heavy, with Shikhar Dhawan, Finch and Warner occupying the first three positions in the batting order. Conversely, a middle order that reads KL Rahul, Venugopal Rao and Sammy does not inspire much confidence. The inclusion of Ojha in the last game was a step in the right direction, but not at the cost of a bowling all-rounder.
Ideally, Dhawan and Finch should open the innings, and Warner should bat somewhere in the middle-order. Sammy, Ojha (who will keep wickets), and one batsman between Venugopal, Rahul, Manpreet Juneja and Srikkanth Anirudha should make up the rest of the middle-order.
Absence of big names in the middle-order can be countered by either bringing in more batsmen, or increasing the number of all-rounders. Apart from Irfan, who was perhaps unfairly dumped after just one match, Ashish Reddy and Parvez Rasool are the designated all-rounders in the squad. Reddy has had a few productive games with the Deccan Chargers (DC) and the SRH in the past. Rasool has been a household name for a couple of seasons now thanks to the media exposure surrounding him being a cricketer from Kashmir, but very few people have actually seen him play. Irfan would certainly be a more reliable option, although Rasool’s off-spin would add some variety to the attack.
The frontline bowlers look set, although Mishra hasn’t quite managed to replicate the form he showed for India in the recently concluded ICC World T20 2014. Apart from him, Steyn, Karn and Bhuvaneshwar have looked good.
SRH play their next game against a rampaging Chennai Super Kings (CSK). They will need to sort out their team selection very quickly, if they want to go further in the tournament. A match against one of the perennial favourites will be a good way for them to test what could be their winning combination. With some more depth in their batting and a little more consistency in their bowling, the SRH could well replicate their result from last year. The match against CSK will be the perfect acid test.
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(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)