Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have developed a reputation for punching above their weight and exceeding expectations, something they managed in the IPL 2020 season too.
Sunrisers Hyderabad looked to be down and out after a disappointing first half of their campaign. However, beating giants like Mumbai Indians (MI), Delhi Capitals (DC) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) helped SRH dominated the business end of the league phase and finish in third place.
The Hyderabad-based franchise beat RCB in the Eliminator and were one step away from making the IPL 2020 final. However, they fell short against DC in Qualifier 2.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have made some shrewd acquisitions for this season and could go all the way in IPL 2021. On that note, let's have a look at five Sunrisers Hyderabad players to watch out for in IPL 2021.
#5 Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
With 136 wickets in just 121 games, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is an IPL veteran. The Uttar Pradesh fast bowler has been leading the Sunrisers Hyderabad bowling attack for a number of years now. However, he has been injury-prone, reason why he played only four games last season.
The absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar proved costly for Sunrisers Hyderabad, as they had to contend with an inexperienced bowling attack for the rest of their campaign. However, this year the 31-year-old has returned to the fold and has also had a successful return to the Indian team.
In the ODI series against England, where the visitors scored in excess of 320 twice in three games, Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled at an incredible economy rate of 4.65 and also picked up six wickets. He was also impressive in the ensuring T20I series and will look to be the spearhead of the SRH pace battery once again.
If the 31-year-old manages to remain fit and continues his fine form, he could be one of the contenders for the Purple Cap. Bhuvneshwar's form will be crucial for Sunrisers Hyderabad's chances of winning IPL 2021.
#4 Rashid Khan
After dominating T20 cricket for the last few years, Rashid Khan is still difficult to pick for most batsmen. It is incredible that the 22-year-old and has already won the ICC Men's T20I Player of the Decade award.
The Afghanistan star has 75 wickets to his name in just 62 IPL games at a fabulous economy rate of 6.24. He was one of the main strike bowlers for the Sunrisers Hyderabad last season, especially in the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. His tally of 20 wickets played a key role in SRH making the playoffs in IPL 2020.
In many T20 leagues around the world, Rashid Khan has also showcased his ability to use the long handle. The next step for him would be to become a consistent finisher for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. With Mitchell Marsh pulling out this season, Rashid Khan's batting prowess down the order could be crucial for SRH.
The 22-year-old is arguably one of the biggest match-winners in T20 cricket. Hence, it is a bit strange that even after four seasons, he doesn't have an IPL trophy in his cabinet.
He would certainly want to change that this year and be the man Warner turns to in tough situations.
#3 T Natarajan
The journey of T Natarajan from the start of the IPL 2020 season to date has been nothing short of a fairy tale. When he was retained by the Sunrisers Hyderabad ahead of last season, there were doubts over what the left-arm pacer could offer.
However, in the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Natarajan proved to be the X-factor for SRH. The 29-year-old picked up an impressive 16 wickets in as many games and was the go-to man for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the death overs.
He made a reputation for himself for nailing his yorkers to perfection and even the likes of AB de Villiers couldn't get the better of him. Based on his exploits in IPL 2020, Natarajan was called up to the Indian team as a replacement for the injured Varun Chakravarthy.
In a span of just two months, the left-armer ended up making his international debut across all formats and was highly impressive.
Having not played cricket for quite some time, Natarajan made his international comeback in the ODI series decider against England. He held his nerve and nailed his yorkers in the final over to help India seal a thrilling win and take the series. That suggests that the upcoming IPL season could be a successful one for both Natarajan and SRH.
Both Natarajan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar can form one of the best death-bowling combinations in the IPL 2021 season. Whether they can help Sunrisers Hyderabad bring home their second IPL title remains to be seen, though.
#2 David Warner
Sunrisers Hyderabad's leading run-scorer in the IPL and their talisman, David Warner, will certainly be one of the most important players for the team this season. Like every year, Warner could be one of the frontrunners for the Orange Cap.
SRH have long been known to be a top-heavy side and have always depended a lot on how Warner scores his runs. When the Australian star is on song, there is no stopping him, and the Sunrisers Hyderabad end up winning more often than not.
But Warner has always had the pressure of performing in almost every game, as he knows SRH's middle order is probably not the strongest in the competition. Towards the end of last year, Warner seemed to have found the right balance in his team, as the inclusion of Jason Holder lent much-needed steel to the batting.
However, that came at the cost of another in-form opener in Jonny Bairstow, who missed out owing to the IPL's four-foreigner rule. It will be interesting to see whether Wriddiman Saha or the in-form Bairstow opens the batting for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2021.
Warner's opening partner would determine how the Australian paces his innings. Sometimes the SRH captain struggles to find the balance between playing the aggressor and the sheet anchor's role. The more clear he is in his approach this season, the better it would be for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
#1 Kane Williamson
Arguably the most underrated player in the IPL, Kane Williamson has been absolutely sensational for the Sunrisers Hyderabad over the years and has delivered under pressure.
Williamson has a healthy average of 39.48 and a brilliant career strike rate of 134.8. That makes it hard to believe that his batting is perceived to be a bit slow for the shortest format of the game.
Nevertheless, leading the Sunrisers Hyderabad to the IPL 2018 final in the absence of Warner, the 30-year-old scored over 700 plus runs to quieten his naysayers.
He was brilliant in the IPL 2020 season, too, despite sitting out a few matches. Be it batting at no. 3 or no. 4, Williamson can play the situation well and brings much-needed stability to SRH's inexperienced middle order. His tally of 317 runs at an average of 45.28 last year were crucial in SRH's run to the playoffs.
Williamson has proved time and again that he is one of the best all-format batsmen in the world. Thus, it is a no-brainer that the New Zealander has to start in the SRH playing XI, as the team's batting can play around him.
Williamson could be crucial for Sunrisers Hyderabad as they go for their second title in the competition.