The Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) went about their business quietly and effectively in the last edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). They got off to a poor start, but overcame the slump apart from an injury to key speedster Bhuvneshwar Kumar to reach Qualifier 2.
SRH have retained the core that has taken them to the playoffs in almost every season, and released only 5 players who didn't play a single game for them in IPL 2020. While the team is strong overall, especially for home conditions, there are a couple of holes that must be addressed if they are to clinch their second IPL title.
Retained Players: David Warner, Abhishek Sharma, Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Shreevats Goswami, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, T Natarajan, Vijay Shankar, Wriddhiman Saha, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Mitchell Marsh, Jason Holder, Abdul Samad
Released Players: Billy Stanlake, Sandeep Bavanaka, Fabian Allen, Sanjay Yadav, Prithviraj Yarra
Here are 3 areas of concern for SRH ahead of the live IPL 2021 auction.
#3 SRH might look to sign a tearaway pacer
SRH have a number of Indian pacers - Sandeep Sharma, T Natarajan, Khaleel Ahmed, Siddarth Kaul, Basil Thampi and of course Bhuvneshwar Kumar. However, none of these quicks have express pace, and might go for runs of surfaces that don't have much to offer.
SRH released Billy Stanlake in order to keep hold of Jason Holder, who was initially signed as a replacement for the injured Mitchell Marsh. This has left them without a single pacer who can bowl in the 140s on a consistent basis.
SRH might look to target someone like Liam Plunkett or Mark Wood, or Indian options such as Varun Aaron. Even if the fast bowler they sign doesn't make the playing XI, he will be a key asset on the bench.
#2 SRH need a quality Indian spinner
Rashid Khan is arguably the best spinner in the IPL, but he found little support from the other end last season. Mohammad Nabi didn't find a place in the playing XI regularly, with Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson and Jason Holder accompanying Rashid and Warner.
Shahbaz Nadeem played a few games but didn't really impress, while Abhishek Sharma and Abdul Samad weren't trusted enough to give 4 or even 2 overs each game.
SRH will do well to find a quality Indian spinner who can complement Rashid Khan. Someone like Piyush Chawla or Harbhajan Singh might be a perfect fit with the 2016 champions, thanks to their experience and ability to restrict the flow of runs.
#1 SRH must sign reliable middle-order batsmen
The biggest problem that SRH faced in IPL 2020 was their weak middle order. Warner and Bairstow made up the opening combination for the first half of the tournament, followed by Manish Pandey at No. 3.
This left Williamson with the unenviable task of shepherding the inexperienced middle order, which was also without Vijay Shankar for a significant period of time due to injury. SRH have batsmen like Virat Singh and Priyam Garg on their roster, but they need a veteran lower-middle order batsman who can accelerate at the death.
This would greatly increase the depth of their batting lineup, and take some of the burden off the shoulders of Warner and Williamson. SRH have far too many batsmen who prefer to bat at the top of the order, and they need someone who is naturally suited to the death overs.