For the longest time, Sunrisers Hyderabad have carried a sense of identity that nominally ignores all of their batsmen but Warner - a boom-or-bust kind of set-up. However, their affinity to play percentage cricket in the last couple of years has given them a purpose in both departments this season.
In 2019, Sunrisers Hyderabad ended up with as many points as Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab but made it to the Eliminator by virtue of a higher net run-rate, where they lost to Delhi Capitals. While that might not be the honest appraisal of the side coming to the 2020 season, there has been a holistic pattern in place, which the franchise would love to bank on for a comparatively better showing under their talisman David Warner, who led them to a title four years ago.
Openers Warner and Jonny Bairstow were literally unstoppable last year and put up a whopping 791 runs in the 10 matches they played together. Four century stands and three other fifty-plus stands talked about the dominance they had. An average of 9.84 an over which translated to the average powerplay score of 55.92 - the highest run in the tournament - bestowed the side to a monumental position. You combine that with Manish Pandey, then SRH top-three contributed 56.51% of their total runs - the fourth-best in the tournament - despite losing their two best players to the World Cup preparation.
This is a revealing statistic and tells more about Sunrisers’ 2019 campaign than anything else can. Returning from his one-year ban, Warner made 692 runs in 12 matches at an average of 69.20 and a strike rate of 143.86 while Bairstow, who was an absolute steal in the auction, made 445 in 10 games, at 55.62 and 157.24 respectively. The duo scored 48% of Sunrisers' total runs while losing only 0.64 wickets on an average during the first six overs, which was, in fact, the best in the league, allowing the franchise to stick to their guns with the bowling later.
It is a great solace for the 2016 Champions that the pair will reunite once again, a core the franchise carefully maintained, with the batting order having an almost similar look as it was in the previous edition. If the Quarantine regulation ensures the English and Aussie pair missing the first couple of games, Virat Singh, who has made a name for himself in domestic cricket, can pitch in and set the stage for the likes of Vijay Shankar and Mitchell Marsh.
However, with the addition of Marsh, Sunrisers will hope their middle-over concerns are put to rest. Their Nos. 4-7 averaged just 16.02 last year, which is the worst among all teams, their strike rate of 120.96 was only higher than Chennai Super Kings. It resulted in a terrible death over performance as they managed just 37.64 runs in the last five, the worst among all teams in the competition. By getting rid of the likes of Yusuf Pathan, Deepak Hooda, and Ricky Bhui, they made their intent clear - but they will desperately hope for Priyam Garg, Sandeep Bavanaka and Abdul Samad to provide the impetus at the right time.
The department that SRH have always soared high is bowling - a fantastic blend of youth and experience played a part in Hyderabad holding their cards in a solid fashion. In a tournament where the par score was 164, SRH normally conceded 157.14 and with 19 boundaries per game, they stayed only behind spin-heavy CSK. The fact that Sunrisers Hyderabad are the best performing side in the entire IPL in terms of their powerplay bowling keeps them in good stead as compared to other teams: giving away just 43.92 runs in the powerplay, Sunrisers sit at the top with the next best performing side - Chennai Super Kings - giving away two runs more than them on average.
A heavy-lifter with the bat in the powerplay, SRH’s dominance can be judged from the fact that they give away only 43.92 runs in the first six overs, better than every single team, which they backed up by picking an average 1.42 wickets per match in that period. That delivers on the promise from which it is difficult get away, normally.
Hence it is not a surprise that they haven’t added a single out and out bowler to their arsenal, with Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, and Siddarth Kaul all slated to be rotated amongst each other for the third season running. The presence of Shahbaz Nadeem, Billy Stanlake, Basil Thampi, and T Natarajan is the cherry on the cake that will keep SRH on a good footing.
Trevor Bayliss, who replaced Tom Moody as the head coach for this season, however, will be wary of the fact that the side gave away 45.35 runs at death, only the fourth-best among all teams while dismissing 2.35 batsmen in the process. Although these are some decent numbers, on a bad day, this can prove to be slightly dangerous.