An unimpressive eighth place finish in the previous edition of the IPL and the confusion that followed for the next few months all but brought the former champions to the end of their IPL journey. Six months on, the team from Hyderabad has risen out of the chaos under a new management and a new name – a name that is as hilarious as it is meaningless. Nevertheless, the squad has a well-rounded look and a completeness about it, despite its unstable beginnings. Having retained about 20 players of the now defunct Deccan Chargers, the new management did a decent job of strengthening the squad in certain key areas during the pre-season transfer window, adding the likes of Nathan McCullum and Darren Sammy.
For a rather new management, having players who have already played alongside each other will be a great boost as they look to gel as a team and get to winning ways as early as possible. A mentor of Laxman’s calibre will definitely help the side get going which is vitally important as dropping those crucial points early on can seriously hamper the chances of making it to the knock out stages. For as stronger as the side may have become, the competition for the top four spots is stiff and in a format as quick-paced as this, a couple of points is all it boils down to towards the end.
1. Dale Steyn
Pretty obvious. Undoubtedly the MVP in the squad, he was the major contributor in DC’s late run of form which lifted them from the bottom of the table to 8th place. Recognised as one of the most lethal fast bowlers in the world today, he is almost indispensable for the Sun Risers and the side need him to perform consistently if there is to be a chance of making it into the knock out stages. A positive for the side would be the return of Ishant Sharma to operate from the other end.
2. Shikhar Dhawan
It might have been the century on Test debut against Australia which brought him into the limelight, but the young opening batsman has been a consistent performer. Chipping in with crucial knocks for DC in IPL-5 made him a regular starter and the experience has further helped him mature over time into the player he is today. He might miss the first couple of games due to injury but his return should give a much needed boost to the top order.
3. Amit Mishra
Of course, Sangakkara is the captain and a really talented wicket-keeper batsman but as the sole spinner in the team, Amit Mishra plays a more significant role, having to bear the burden during the middle overs. More importantly, on the pitches in the subcontinent where the ball tends to turn more than it swings, his four overs can make the difference.
In a format as unpredictable as the T20s, nothing can be said for certain but going by the strength of the side on paper, the team is strong enough to rise out of the bottom three and even put up a fight to qualify for the knock-outs. If the tournament plays out as on paper, the team might finish in fifth place.Follow @SportsKeeda