IPL 2018: SunRisers Hyderabad mid-season review
A look back at how SRH have fared in the first of the season as they take a week's break.
Sunrisers Hyderabad are deemed one of the favorites to win the IPL 2018 after the end of the auction in January last week. But in April they got the bad news that their skipper David Warner, the leading run scorer from last year's IPL, was banned for the ball-tampering scandal. Kane Williamson was named the captain and Alex Hales as the replacement for Warner. An always consistent bowling attack since its inception, SRH added more depth to its bowling attack. They also improved their middle order in the auction by grabbing three ex-KKR players, Manish Pandey, Shakib-Al-Hasan and Yusuf Pathan.
SRH had a busy week with playing four games in eight days by going 3-1 during those games. They are currently on top of the points table after 8 games with a 6-2 record. They have a week off and let's take a look at how they fared so far.
After the David Warner suspension, everyone was skeptical about the Sunrisers batting and how they would perform. The suspicions were proved correct. Apart from the captain Kane Williamson and a couple of flashy innings by Shikhar Dhawan before his injury almost everyone else disappointed. Manish Pandey, one of the expensive buys from this year's auction, is the biggest disappointment. SRH expected him to fill the void they were having in the middle order for the past couple of seasons, but he was pretty mediocre. His two fifties came in a very head-scratching slow-paced manner against the Kings XI Punjab. The first one came when the team was in a big hole and needed him to fire and win the game in the first of those, instead, they lost just by 15 runs. Shakib-Al-Hasan and Yusuf Pathan pitched in with a couple of cameos that helped team win a couple of games.
Wriddhiman Saha, who replaced Naman Ojha, was supposed to be an improvement was another huge disappointment. Saha who has been pretty dependable for the Kings XI Punjab the last couple of seasons couldn't translate that success over for SRH this season. Deepak Hooda did win a game for SunRisers against Mumbai Indians but he eventually became a squad casualty thanks to injuries to other key players he had to be replaced for the balance of the squad. Alex Hales finally got an opportunity and proved he is the right man to replace the David Warner's vacant opening slot.
With Dhawan and Hales opening and Williamson coming next, that should settle the top 3 positions with Pandey, Shakib, and Pathan following them. The three ex-KKR players, especially Pandey, need to step up their game to help post decent targets instead of putting every game on the hands of the bowling unit. Saha could be the designated hitter that could come down the order who can go after the ball in the last few overs.
This has to be the best bowling attack in all of IPL. Sunrisers were always a better bowling unit since the franchise's inception. But this season, they seem more dangerous than ever thanks to the depth they have in that department.They defended three back-to-back very modest totals against some of the best batting units. In those three games, the opponents were in very good place to chase the target but SRH bowlers had remarkable turnaround especially in the back end of the innings suffocating the batsmen with variety.
When SRH bought a lot of pace bowlers in this year's auction thought they might have overdone it. But, with untimely injury to Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and a season-ending injury to Australian pacer Billy Stanlake the depth they have makes more sense. Before they were injured Stanlake and Kumar have been more consistent in restricting the opponents and getting wickets at regular intervals.
Sidharth Kaul who was good last year is having a breakout year. His knuckleball has been a revelation this season. Sandeep Sharma has been brilliant with his economical spells in the powerplays. Basil Thampi pitched in for injured Bhuvaneshwar Kumar when needed and has been brilliant in containing runs.
Afghani sensation Rashid Khan has continued his sensational form to IPL. He beat the batsmen many times with his googlies. He was hammered in two games that SRH lost but he was unfazed and came back strong for the next three games. The most notable was his performance against Mumbai Indians when he bowled a maiden over in the 17th over to Hardik Pandya while defending a very modest of 118 runs. They ended up winning the game by 30 runs. Shakib-Al-Hasan was another successful addition to the team he has been consistently picking up wickets and containing runs. Mohammed Nabi too pitched in the two games that SRH were able to defend the top two low totals defended in this years IPL.
They have done maximum damage without their ace pacer, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. They could be even more dangerous once he comes back. With a week off he should be able to rest well and come back at the right time to take the best team in IPL to Playoffs and beyond.
A Complete Team
Overall, SRH is a defensive minded team who can defend any kind of target on any given day. But, you have to wonder there could be an expiry date attached to the run of defending low totals. The batsmen should take more responsibility to help relieve the pressure on the bowlers. They have the talent but no one clicked at the same time together once. When That happens this team could be more dangerous with the bat as it is with the ball. One of the most underrated aspects of this team is its fielding. The fielding has complimented the bowling nicely, helping the team defending the smaller targets.
Overall Grade: A-
Most Valuable Player: Kane Willamson
Rashid Khan could be an option here. But, after losing Warner for suspension everyone wondered about the team morale but Williamson has done an exceptional job of handling his duties and keeping the team together. He remained cool in defending the low totals and has been brilliant in rotating his bowlers based on the conditions. his decision making has been top-notch. He also took over the batting responsibility with consistently performing at the top of the order.
SunRisers Hyderabad probably has the most favorable schedule moving forward. 4 of the 6 games they play are against the bottom feeders in Royal Challenger Banglore and Delhi Daredevils and two more against Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders. They can easily win 4 of 6 of these games and could remain on top of the table for the Playoffs. If the bowling continues to provide these amazing defenses and the batting is improved they are easily the favorites to run away with the title this year.
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