2 points too less for the Sunrisers
Had Sunrisers Hyderabad won their last game against the Mumbai Indians in the group stage of the IPL, they would have finished second on the points table. In fact, all Sunrisers needed to do to qualify for the playoffs was to win one of their last two games at home in Hyderabad. However, finishing sixth was a fitting result for a team that was underwhelming for most of the season.
While David Warner’s misjudgement about the boundary rope cost them the game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the game against Mumbai Indians was a no contest. Once David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan failed simultaneously, the game was as good as over. The Sunrisers have never won a game where both have scored less than ten. Sunrisers’ over reliance on their openers cost them dearly as despite the openers averaging 45, their middle order was feeble and did not make most of the good starts provided.
Poor Auction strategy
They have consistently been one of the poorer buyers at the auction and once Kevin Pietersen failed to show up, they were always in trouble as they did not buy any quality Indian batsmen at the auction. Their Indian contingent was extremely disappointing as none of them managed to score even a single 50 other than Dhawan. Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara were two other strange selections in the XI especially after their wretched recent form at the World Cup. The duo only managed one 50 between them in the IPL.
Their fickle selection policy did not help matters as they made at least one change every single game and used as many as 18 players in the tournament. Moises Henriques was easily the find of the tournament for them and he came into his own in the second half of the tournament where he won them a couple of matches with the bat and ball. He was also the only bowler other than Bhuvneshwar Kumar to finish with more than 10 wickets in the tournament for the Hyderabad based franchise.
Warner stands out again
David Warner’s aggressive and proactive captaincy was another gain as he led from the front with 562 runs that included seven 50’s. He also was named Man of the Match in four of the team’s seven wins. Warner and Dhawan were the most consistent opening pair in the tournament and whenever one of them fired, the team managed to win.
The success of teams like Chennai and Mumbai in the IPL is based on their Indian contingent and that is one area that the Sunrisers need to beef up for the next season. Naman Ojha could not capitalise on a good domestic season in 2014 and had his worst season in the IPL. India’s incumbent Test opener KL Rahul also failed to put up any substantial score in the tournament which hurt the team’s cause.
Due to their fragile batting, Sunrisers had to play as many as three overseas batsmen, meaning Dale Steyn and Trent Boult had to miss out on games despite being two of the best bowlers in world cricket. Steyn only managed to pick three wickets in six games and the game of musical chairs probably resulted in him never finding his rhythm.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the saving grace in the bowling line up as Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar proved expensive at the death and were at a loss to find wickets. The spinners did a decent job but Karn Sharma could not lead the attack in the absence of Amit Mishra who was released before the season. It was baffling to not see Sunrisers play youngsters like Chama Milind, Siddharth Kaul and Ricky Bhui as all of them had good domestic seasons and would have provided them a good idea about the future.
In essence, Sunrisers relied on a handful of players to win them games time and again. In a long drawn out tournament like the IPL, players go through ups and downs and Sunrisers need to have a look at their bench strength and make some reinforcements to stand a chance of making the playoffs next season.
They should look at young Indian players who have done well on the domestic circuit in T20 cricket as KL Rahul and Hanuma Vihari are good first class players, but as we have seen they have struggled in the shortest format of the game. An youngster like Hardik Pandya or Sarfraz Khan would have greatly aided the Sunrisers. They also need to optimally utilise some of their talented all-rounders like Bipul Sharma, Ashish Reddy and Parvez Rasool.
While the franchise would be happy with the fact that they were in with a chance to finish second till their last game, they need to take a serious look at the composition of their team before the next IPL.