The Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) lost eight wickets for a meagre 32 runs against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to lose their opening match by 10 runs. In the second game, they could manage just 110 runs from the first 16 overs before eventually finishing on 142 only for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to chase it down with seven wickets to spare.
More than the result and the fact that they are regularly being put under the pump in the middle overs, the omission of a certain name from the SRH line-up has caught people’s attention.
Kane Williamson won the IPL 2018 Orange Cap, scoring a whopping 735 runs in 17 matches. And, the same player has now been warming the bench in IPL 2020, despite his side putting up dismal batting performances on a regular basis. So, why exactly has the Kiwi captain been left on the sidelines?
One of the most obvious answers is that of their deadly opening combination of captain David Warner and Jonny Bairstow. Warner finished as the leading run-getter in IPL 2019 with 692 runs in 12 matches and Bairstow scored 445 runs in 10 matches to propel SRH into the playoffs.
In addition to the run-scoring part, the English opener adds another dimension to the side with his wicketkeeping, while Warner is the leader, thus making the duo irreplaceable in the playing eleven.
Another such asset to the Hyderabad-based franchise is leg-spinner Rashid Khan. Not only does he boast the best economy rate (6.57) in IPL history, but he is also a bigger threat on the slow, turning wickets in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). So, the remaining five overseas players, including Kane Williamson, are left fighting for the one available spot.
Aussie all-rounder Mitchell Marsh played in SRH’s opening fixture against RCB while Mohammad Nabi played versus KKR on Saturday. This was, however, after Marsh injured his ankle and was replaced by West Indian Jason Holder.
Former Afghanistan captain Nabi got the go-ahead over Williamson purely because of his all-round abilities and that he could be the perfect player to bridge the gap between a power-packed top-order and a fragile middle-order. Nabi scored an unbeaten 11 off 8 balls and conceded just 23 runs from four overs in the game against KKR.
Where there is a ‘Will’, there should be a way for SRH
But, there is still room for Kane Williamson in the side. However, a lot hinges on the availability of all-rounder Vijay Shankar, who injured his back ahead of Saturday’s game. If Shankar comes back, he can be slotted in at No.6 while Kane Williamson can bat one-down, followed by Manish Pandey and Wriddhiman Saha.
If Vijay Shankar remains sidelined for a long time, SRH can still play Williamson at No. 3. But, it would mean that a lot will depend on the top four because they would have to back either of the inexperienced duo of Abhishek Sharma or Priyam Garg as a finisher at No. 6.
The SRH management can even deploy 18-year-old Abdul Samad as a floater in the side. The Jammu and Kashmir batter finished with the second-highest strike-rate of 112.97 in the last Ranji Trophy season.
SRH, who are yet to register a win in IPL 2020, will lock horns with top-ranked Delhi Capitals tonight in Abu Dhabi. It would be intriguing to see the team combination SRH goes with into their third attempt to get off the mark in the points table.
Kane Williamson fans, don’t be upset if you see fast bowler Billy Stanlake in the playing eleven, considering the lacklustre bowling performance SRH put up in the last game against KKR.Published 29 Sep 2020, 13:39 IST