After an emphatic start to the season, where they won games convincingly, a playoffs spot for SRH looked imminent, which they were lucky to achieve. Gradually, their weaknesses got brutally exploited and were knocked out by a high on confidence Delhi Capitals in the Eliminator.
On the back of just six wins from the league stages, Sunrisers Hyderabad were thanking their stars for a playoff spot this season. No team has ever made it to the playoffs with just 12 points in their basket, and SRH were an exception due to their relatively better net run-rate, which was a result of Jonny Bairstow and David Warner’s brilliance in most of the games.
Although SRH were a little unfortunate to miss out on some international stars in the business end of the tournament, their domestic core did nothing of substance to even pose a threat, barring a couple of exceptions. Warner and Bairstow at the top rendered batting a joy to behold and stitched match-winning partnerships at an impeccable consistency. While Manish Pandey’s elevation at number three breath new life, Rashid Khan and Khaleel Ahmed’s run with the ball was instrumental.
If truth be told, SRH without Warner and Bairstow looked like a toothless tiger and eventually fizzled out in the Eliminator against Delhi Capitals in their absence, which was expected. Talking about their bowling, apart from Rashid Khan, Khaleel Ahmed and Mohammad Nabi to an extent, most of the bowlers had an awful time. Sandeep Sharma wasn’t swinging the ball the way he used to while Basil Thampi sparked just a solitary brilliance and Siddharth Kaul had an ordinary season.
Warner-Bairstow camaraderie at the top
First and foremost, Bairstow’s pick was an insane one by SRH in the auctions for a modest price of 2.2 crores. For the kind of form Bairtsow has been in; it was only about time when he wreaked havoc in a tournament like the Indian Premier League. With a firing Warner at one end, SRH found the ideal opening combination with Bairstow in the ranks. They were like a double-edged sword, which cuts both ways and haunted best of the bowling attacks with their belligerence and elegance.
If Warner won’t get you, Bairstow will! In IPL, it’s a rare scenario when Warner is being overshadowed and Bairstow did that time and again. The duo kick-started the tournament with three back-to-back centuries stands including a record one against RCB (185). They stitched a total of 791 runs in 10 innings together, which is also the highest by an opening pair in the IPL.
Despite playing just 12 games this season, Warner finished as the highest run-scorer in the 12th edition and hardly failed with the bat. Saying that Warner was impactful would be an understatement and his record eight half-centuries; one hundred in 12 outings uphold the irony. Bairstow played two games fewer than Warner, but had a great impact with 445 runs at an astounding average of just over 55.
Khaleel Ahmed’s knack of picking wickets
SRH were unfortunate to miss out on Ahmed in the first leg, but the left-arm pacer proved his worth on his return straight away by picking wickets. Although he leaked few runs here and there, he covered up for that with ample number of wickets and 19 scalps from nine games says the story. He almost pulled off a miracle in the final over of the Eliminator, where he tightened the noose around DC batsmen, but missed out by a whisker.
Manish Pandey’s promotion at 3
In cricket, small things can make huge differences and Manish Pandey’s promotion at three is a testament to it. After a series of hot and cold performances, Pandey grabbed the opportunity with both the hands on his first game at three this season by smashing an unbeaten 83 against CSK. His success there bought him ample time at the top and the explosive batsman repaid the faith with interest. In six innings at the said position, Pandey crossed the 30-run mark five times including three fifties which pretty much speaks volumes of his effectiveness. He looked like a different batsman altogether the moment he took guard at three.
Rashid Khan’s staggering consistency
Rashid Khan continued to impress this season as well and posed a threat with his wily leg-spin. He finished with just 17 wickets in his basket because batsmen tried to play him out and hardly attacked on most of the occasions. His economy this season scaled a newer height and the ball was coming out beautifully off his hand. He continued to bank on his stock deliveries and bowled unplayable googlies without any discernible change in action.
What didn’t work?
With a top-order that powerful, SRH should have won games single-handedly, but a vulnerable middle-order didn’t allow them to achieve fruitful dividends. SRH’s middle-order was hardly tested when Warner and Bairstow were spilling fire at the top, but whenever they didn’t the middle-order followed the template.
Vijay Shankar, Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan failed to do anything of substance in the middle-order, which cost them massively once Warner and Bairstow were unavailable. This has been the problem for a while now and it haunted them this season as well. Williamson was marred by injuries for most of the season while Mohammad Nabi and others struggled with consistency.
After being named in the World Cup squad, all eyes were set on Vijay Shankar, but the all-rounder disappointed more often than not. He got few impressive starts but failed to convert into substantial scores. He garnered just 244 runs from 15 games at an average of just over 20, which is by far not the kind of numbers you expect from a member of the World Cup squad.
Yusuf Pathan has massive experience under his belt, but another poor season has certainly raised questions regarding his spot in the line-up. Hooda, on the other hand, continued to squander his golden opportunities and it’s only about time when the axe finally falls on him. Even Pandey vulnerable in the middle-order but made up for it by getting runs at three.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s ordinary season
Over the years, SRH have earned a reputation of being a bowling powerhouse, they have defended low scores on a consistent basis, but the same magic was seen to be wanting this season. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is known to swing the new ball and get early breakthroughs, which was not seen this season. In fact, his yorkers too went for a toss and leaked runs at crucial stages. His parched run affected SRH massively as he is the spearhead of the bowling attack and was expected to lead with example. With just 13 wickets at an economy of 7.81 is not something you associate Bhuvneshwar Kumar with.
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