The Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have always had consistent opening partnerships over the course of their time in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
SRH have always been a top-heavy team, and runs from the openers have been a staple of their style of play in the league. This season is expected to be no different, with the franchise's 2021 auction strategy focused on plugging the holes in the middle order.
Experienced Indian batsman Kedar Jadhav is now part of the SRH roster, while a number of youngsters can bat in the middle order as well.
SRH's squad for IPL 2021: David Warner, Kane Williamson, Virat Singh, Manish Pandey, Priyam Garg, Wriddhiman Saha, Jonny Bairstow, Sreevats Goswami, Vijay Shankar, Mitchell Marsh, Mohammad Nabi, Jason Holder, Abhishek Sharma, Abdul Samad, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed, Siddarth Kaul, Basil Thampi, Shahbaz Nadeem, Kedar Jadhav, Jagadeesha Suchith, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Among those in the squad above, David Warner, Kane Williamson, Wriddhiman Saha, Jonny Bairstow and Sreevats Goswami are capable of opening the batting in T20 cricket.
In this article, we predict SRH's opening combination for IPL 2021.
What did SRH do in IPL 2020?
In IPL 2020, SRH started off with the combination that brought them great success in the previous edition of the league.
Skipper David Warner and Jonny Bairstow opened the batting for the 2016 champions, while Kane Williamson found himself on the bench for the first few games. Although Bairstow started off the tournament with a patient 61, his form worsened as the pitches in the UAE rapidly slowed down.
After half the league stage had passed, SRH tried out Williamson - who had been batting at No. 4 - and Bairstow as the opening combination in a game against the Kolkata Knight Riders. That experiment lasted only one game, with Warner returning to the top of the order after Williamson suffered a niggle.
Two matches later, Bairstow was dropped due to a prolonged run of poor scores. Wriddhiman Saha, who had played one game in the middle order already, opened the batting with his skipper.
SRH's fortunes turned around, as they went on a winning run to reach the playoffs. A late injury to Saha saw Sreevats Goswami replace him, but there was no doubt that Saha-Warner was the team's most successful opening combination in IPL 2020.
David Warner and Jonny Bairstow likely to open the batting for SRH in IPL 2021
While Saha and Warner were successful in IPL 2020, it's simply impossible to leave out Jonny Bairstow given his current form. The English opener has been severe on the Indian bowlers in the ongoing ODI series, and has a massive advantage over Saha when it comes to match practice.
Including Bairstow instead of Saha doesn't mean that Kane Williamson has to be dropped from the playing XI. The Kiwi skipper can continue to bat at either No. 3 or No. 4 and shepherd the middle order like he did in the last game.
Playing all of Bairstow, Williamson and Warner may not have been possible last year due to Bhuvneshwar Kumar's injury, as Jason Holder was needed to beef up the pace department. But this season, Bhuvneshwar and T Natarajan form a lethal pace pairing that is ably supported by Sandeep Sharma - who was superb in IPL 2020 - and Vijay Shankar.
Mohammad Nabi might have a role to play with SRH having a number of games in Chennai. But in Shahbaz Nadeem, Rashid Khan, Abdul Samad, Abhishek Sharma and Kedar Jadhav, the Orange Army have a plethora of spin options to choose from.
Bairstow and Warner are one of the best opening partnerships in the history of the IPL, even if the 2020 campaign was a step in the backward direction. But since SRH can afford to play both Williamson and Bairstow without too many balance issues, it's a no-brainer to pick the Yorkshireman ahead of Saha.