IPL 2018: Sunrisers Hyderabad Preview
It's that time of the year again where the cricketers from different nations join hands to play in a single tournament. Yes, it's IPL time. Let's take a look at the Sunrisers Hyderabad squad and how their season is going to unfold.
Post Auction squad review
Post auction, in the last week of January, Sunrisers Hyderabad looked like the team to beat in this year's edition of the IPL. Not only did they try and retain their core players from last three years but they even added critical players to the often criticized middle order. With the way the auction turned up for the team, with David Warner, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Rashid Khan coming back and with the way things ended last time for them because of a rain-affected playoff game against KKR, if all things go according to plan, they are considered to be one of the top favorites to win it all this year.
Ball Tampering after effects
Unfortunately, things changed drastically in the past couple of weeks. David Warner was banned by Cricket Australia and subsequently by BCCI for the IPL for the ball tampering scandal. It's not a secret that Warner has been the man behind the success of the franchise. He will be missed not just as the power hitter as an opening batsman but also for his flamboyance in leading the team.
Warner was replaced by Kane Williamson as the skipper of the team. He is like what some would like to call a polar opposite to what Warner is - a calm and down to earth player who leads the New-Zeland Test team. Before all this, Williamson wasn't even a lock to play in the final eleven but now he is the head of the team. Those are some big shoes to fill for Williamson, but if there is anyone in the team to fill those, it is Williamson. His calm nature is what this team needs in the crisis situation.
How well will it work? We don't know until they play their first game against the Rajasthan Royals on April 9 in Hyderabad.
So, how does the final squad look now?
With all these changes, the strength's and weaknesses of the team has flipped. One of the most reliable and consistent opening pairs in IPL history isn't going to be there this season. Dhawan needs to find a new partner in crime with Alex Hales.
Hales could be a perfect replacement for Warner who could go off in the power-play and give leeway for players like Williamson who come down the order. Dhawan should take over the anchor role, which was played by Warner in the past couple of seasons. The middle-order, which has been a weaker link in the past three seasons, looks stronger and younger with Manish Pandey coming in followed by Wridhiman Saha, Shakib-Al-Hasan, and Deepak Hooda, who Sunrisers regard highly despite his weak performances. This is going to be a make or break season for Hooda.
Sunrisers have always been known for their strong bowling lineup. Two things that they lack in is a specialist foreign fast bowler and a specialist Indian spinner. I think they make up for the lack of specialist fast bowler by adding new young Indian pacers. Along with bringing back Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, who will don the vice-captain hat this year, they bought back Sidharth Kaul, who had a break out season last year.
They also added two up and coming fast bowlers in Sandeep Sharma, who was Kings XI Punjab's best bowler last year, and Basil Thampi, who was a revelation for Gujrat Lions last year.
Fans would be excited with the prospect of seeing Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Sandeep Sharma bowling in the death over from either end. The lack a quality Indian spinner shouldn't be a concern since they have two of the world's top spinners in Rashid Khan and Shakib-Al-Hasan. These two should take care of the spin department with Mohammed Nabi occasionally chipping in.
If needed, Sunrisers can also bring in a true pinch hitter in Carlos Brathwaite, who will be battling for the spot with the newcomer Alex Hales.
Hales, along with Williamson, Shakib, and Rashid, will be the four overseas players during the first stretch of games and they could see Carlos Brathwaite coming in for Shakib or Hales depending on the situation.
Final Preview - Prediction:
The initial stretch of the schedule is in favour of Sunrisers with three of the five games at home. It is a very good chance for the Sunrisers to see where they stand without Warner. Even though they might not be the favourites they were post auction, they are still a very solid team who can and will probably reach the playoffs for the third consecutive season. It is going to be a long season but it is going to be an exciting one.