Sunrisers Hyderabad have won 6 out of 8 encounters so far © AFP
Sunrisers Hyderabad have, so far, won 6 out of 8 encounters © AFP

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) are perched at the top of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 points table after Match 29. Though Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), both two points behind SRH, have a match each in hand, but there can be little doubt that it has been a phenomenal performance for SRH despite the absence of David Warner as both batsman and captain. Kane Williamson has been phenomenal in both roles, and has been supported by a terrific bowling unit — easily the best in the tournament.

Sandeep deserves special mention: his figures for the tournament read 15-0-66-6. Nobody, across franchises, comes anywhere remotely close to his economy rate of 4.40. Mind you, his mates have done well too. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has gone for 6.86 an over, Siddarth Kaul 6.87, Basil Thampi 7.13, Shakib Al Hasan 7.21, and Rashid Khan 7.25.

Only Billy Stanlake (8.12) has gone for over eight, and that is hardly expensive, and Stanlake has anyway been ruled out of the tournament. There is a reason that SRH have defended targets of 119, 133, and 152 in their last three matches.

And when it comes to wickets, Kaul holds the Purple Cap, Rashid is third, and Shakib seventh. No, they don’t need a bowler. In fact, they have surplus.

Unfortunately, it’s not the same for batting. Williamson has been in the Orange Cap race for some time (he is currently second, with 322 runs). His strike rate of 133 has been decent (though not outstanding). Unfortunately, the next two — Manish Pandey (158) and Shikhar Dhawan (152) — have 12 less than Williamson’s tally between them. And while Dhawan strikes at 137, Pandey’s strike rate is a measly 113.

But there is worse news. Of the batsmen who have scored 25 or more (there are eight of them) Williamson and Dhawan are the only ones to have scored at over 127 every hundred balls. In contrast, CSK have six men who strike at more than Dhawan (five of them over 150, in fact).

No, SRH need at least two solid batsmen, preferably big hitters. However, there is a catch: in Rashid, Shakib, and Williamson they have three men who are guaranteed to take field. They have tried out Stanlake and Mohammad Nabi before settling on Alex Hales. Hales has always been dangerous. He got a cautious 45, and is definitely due for more, but if they play Hales they cannot play another overseas cricketer.

What are their options? Faf du Plessis (Chennai) is definitely an option. Mumbai Indians (MI) have included JP Duminy only once, where he has neither batted nor bowled. If SRH go for one or both them, the experience will definitely bolster the middle-order.

But if Hales plays, SRH may consider Indian batsmen. Delhi Daredevils (DD) are unlikely to give up Prithvi Shaw, just like Nitish Rana or Shubman Gill of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) or Ishan Kishan of MI.

Sunrisers may also pursue Murali Vijay of CSK, but they really need a finisher: Dhawan and Williamson have not let them down at the top. Rinku Singh of KKR is an option. Rinku has failed in both appearances for KKR, but a career strike rate of 132 makes him worth pursuing.

Their best bet, however, is Manoj Tiwary of KXIP. Tiwary played a crucial role towards Rising Pune Supergiant’s excellent show in 2017. Tiwary has played only once this season, against SRH, which makes him eligible.