Led by Kane Williamson, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have failed to display any clarity in high-octane situations so far in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022. The Orange Army, after losing the opening two fixtures of the ongoing IPL season, are languishing at the bottom place on the points table.
Within the 11 days of its arrival, the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022, which has become a ten-team tournament from this season onwards courtesy of the additions of two new franchises named Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans, has seen the players being infused with a spirit of audacity. While the Rajasthan Royals (RR), the inaugural season (2008) winners, are placed at the top of the points table on the back of successive wins by handsome margins in their opening two matches, Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings, the Titans, and the Super Giants are not too far behind.
In contrast, among the disappointing starters in IPL 2022, Chennai Super Kings tops the chart, with three defeats in three matches. Though the Yellow Army still have an excuse in their bag, as their INR 14-crore marquee signing Deepak Chahar had suffered a quadriceps injury on his right leg, and that ruled him out for at least six to eight weeks ahead of the season. But the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), despite having almost the full-fledged squad under the leadership of Kane Williamson, languish at the bottom place on the points table.
The SRH made five consecutive appearances in the Play-offs since winning the title in 2016. But in 2021, their streak ended when they finished the league stage at last on the points table, that too for the first time in history. The Orange Army did not enjoy the last edition at all, as their lionhearted hero David Warner, who led them to their only title and also won the Orange Cap (Most run-getter) thrice, was stripped from captaincy in mid-season.
Ahead of the IPL 2022 auction, the SRH made the most shocking decisions among all ten franchises. They released Warner and Rashid Khan, who reportedly wanted to get into the auction pool, and retained 20-year-old uncapped Abdul Samad and 22-year-old speedster Urman Malik alongside Williamson. They did not buy back Jonny Bairstow and Jason Holder either from the auction, and the moves indiciated that they are in aim to change the nucleus of their roster.
The IPL 2022 began for SRH with the worst possible scenario as they lost to Rajasthan Royals (RR) by 61 runs in Pune. Barring Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the two-time Purple Cap (Most wicket-taker) winner, the SRH bowlers seemed lacklustre, going for more than eight runs an over, as the RR piled up 210/6. In response, they were left reeling at 37/5 at one point before Aiden Markram (57* off 41 balls), Romario Shepherd (24 off 18), and Washington Sundar (40 off 14) guided their way to a respectable 149/7. Still, it was nothing but a humiliating defeat.
Match 12 of IPL 2022 was SRH’s second game in the ongoing edition, against the Super Giants. They staged a much-improved bowling show this time, restricting their opponents to 169/7. Even during the chase, they seemed to be in the driver’s seat during the majority of the innings but yet, they closed on 157/9, falling short of 12 runs.
"If you look at the performance, was certainly much improved from our first outing. The start with the ball was outstanding. Were in a strong position..."
Kane Williamson after defeat against Lucknow Super Giants.
All in all, the SRH never looked like a title contender in any of the contests. In fact, many have even started to predict that they are on their way to becoming the first IPL side to lose all their matches in the campaign. Well at this point, their prediction is completely absurd. But why are they doing this stench betting on a side that had been consistent in the Playoffs couple of seasons ago?
Traditionally, the SRH have been a top-heavy batting side. They had Shikhar Dhawan, Warner, and Bairstow in the past alongside Williamson, who scored the bulk of runs for them. This time, they have fetched big bucks (INR 8.5 crore) on Rahul Tripathi, who may aggregate more than 350 runs at the end of the season or may even 400, but is unlikely to make an impact like Warner or Bairstow did. Similarly, the idea of opening with their INR 6.5-crore signing Abhishek Sharma is not going with their plans as well.
Keeping his recent T20I numbers in mind, the SRH roped in Aiden Markram for a cheaper INR 2.6 crore. But the South African is yet to have a memorable IPL outing, and his use in the middle-order (At Nos. 4 and 5) would not help to get the best out of him either. So instead of going with Abhishek, the opener, the SRH should promote Markram at the top to fix the openers’ conundrum. The Markram-Williamson duo should bring them stability, as it should amount to an ostentatious attempt to seek a point of difference.
There was no like-for-like replacement for ‘mysterious’ Rashid in the 2022 auction pool. The SRH, forcefully, signed Washington Sundar for an expensive INR 8.75 crore, considering his cheap economy and his ability to smash high-risk shots. Sundar conceded 47 in three overs against RR and followed it with impressive figures of 2-28 against the Super Giants. Still, the lofty standards that Rashid has created in the cash-rich league are beyond his reach.
Although Rashid’s decision to leave the franchise is debatable, the SRH made a huge mistake by releasing Holder, their second-highest wicket-taker in IPL 2021. The West Indian snared 16 wickets in just eight matches last season and was particularly clinical in the Powerplay overs. There is a lot of pace in Malik, but experience and control are equally important to change the course of any contest.
Now to prove everyone wrong, will the SRH come up with a stellar show against a depleted CSK side in their next match on Saturday (April 9)? quite possible. But then even if it happens, there are very few players who have carried on the momentum going in the past. And that is only because of their tactical errors in the 2022 auction.