Heading into this year’s competition, the Sunrisers Hyderabad are the defending champions. They are set to play the first match of the tournament today against the Royal Challengers Bangalore and it must be said that Hyderabad are the strong favourites in that clash. With a similar squad to last year, there is no reason why they can’t go on to the lift the title again this time round.
From the outset of the 2016 competition it was apparent that the Sunrisers Hyderabad had a well balanced side and there was no obvious weakness. Their batting was led by their two openers, captain David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan who were the second and fourth highest run scores in the tournament respectively. Warner was the only batsman who came close to challenging Virat Kohli for the orange cap, as he hit an outstanding 848 runs. Dhawan followed his lead, hitting over 500 runs as well. These two are set to open the batting again this season and could be equally devastating.
In terms of their bowlers, it was the seamers that were their main strength last year. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who opens the bowling for them, claimed the purple cap last year with his 23 wickets. His pace did not account for these wickets, but his impressive ability to swing the ball and his cunning was his strength. A similar bowler in the Hyderabad attack is the Bangladesh “Fizz”, Mustafizur Rahman. Know for his lethal-off cutter and slower ball, Mustafizur was one of the most economical bowlers in the tournament and picked up 17 wickets. Throughout the entire season he went at less than seven runs an over, a phenomenal acheivement. Being the defending champions, there was no real area for the Sunrisers to address in the IPL Auction, but they took it as a chance to secure some extra talent to provide depth in their squad.
With the purchases of Afghanistan captain Mohammed Nabi and fellow countryman Rashid Khan, the Sunrisers Hyderabad made history as the first side to purchase players from an Associate Nation. Nabi, an experienced all-rounder was sold at his base price of 30 lakh, but Rashid Khan fetched a remarkably high price of 4 crore. The fact that the Sunrisers Hyderabad paid so much for him is a strong indication that he could start as their first choice spinner this year. In the second round of bidding, Hyderabad picked up England fast bowler Chris Jordan. It was surprising that he received so little attention, but he did not have a strong season last year. His overall economy rate of over nine would have put off many sides. In contrast to the young Rashid Khan, the Sunriers Hyderabad also bought the 45-year-old Pravin Tambe. This was a strange move from the defending champions as it is highly unlikely he will feature often. However having an experienced player like him could be highly beneficial for the young guns in their side.
The bulk of the Sunrisers Hyderabad Batting relies on their openers of Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner. They fired last year in dramatic style and were the key reason for their sides success. However, compared to last year both batsmen are out of form. Warner had a tough time in Australia’s recent tour of India, as he struggled to read Ashwin. This could be a major problem as the spinners usually dominate the IPL. In addition to this Dhawan has been experiencing a stint away from India’s national team. Lokesh Rahul has been favored ahead of him in the Test team and the return of Rohit Sharma will make it even more unlikely Dhawan will be India’s first choice opener again. If these two don’t fire, the Sunrisers have a strong middle order they can rely on.
Two experienced all-rounders will be batting at three and four for the Sunirsers. Australian Moises Henriques and Indian veteran Yuvraj Singh will hold the middle order together. Henriques has had a tough year, after a shocking accident in the NatWest T20 Blast in which he collided with another fielder. After missing large parts of the season through injury, Henriques has had a strong return back to the game, including an unbeaten fifty for Australia against Sri Lanka. His domestic performances for New South Wales most recently have been solid and he is set to play the full season for Hyderabad. Yuvraj Singh has had a productive domestic season and has represented India over the winter, in their T20 and ODI squads against England. In the deciding T20 against England, Yuvraj hit a 10 ball 27 showing that he is still capable of demolishing any bowling attack. His contributions with the ball will be handy as well this season. Wicketkeeper Naman Ojha and all-rounder Deepak Hooda are predicted to hold the lower order for the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
It is fair to say that the Sunrisers Hyderabad have one of, if not the, best bowling attack in the competition. Bhuvenshwar Kumar was the best bowler in last year’s competition, but he will be without partner Mustafizur Rahman for the first part of the season. Rahman is currently on international duty, playing for his side Bangladesh against Sri Lanka. His absence could pave the way for Chris Jordan to have a run in the side. Jordan is historically an expensive bowler, but his ability to consistently pick up wickets make him a threat in this competition. However, it is Ashish Nehra who is expected to open the bowling with Kumar. Nehra’s performance last year was phenomenal and earned him a recall to the India T20 side for a few of their matches. The left-armer only went at an economy of 7.6 and picked up 9 wickets in the eight matches he played. His experience is what makes him such an attractive prospect in this tournament.
With the regards to their spinners, Afghanistan international Rashid Khan could make history as the player from his country to play a match in the IPL. Khan impressed in the World T20 competition and has since produced some magnificent performances for his side against other Associate Nations. The pitches in India will be heavily suited to his style of bowling and this upcoming talent is one of the most exciting players in the IPL. Bipul Sharma, a left-arm spinner, will be joining Khan in the spin department for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Sharma has featured in the last six seasons of the IPL with moderate success. Deepak Hooda could also help contribute in this area.
Having looked at their side, there is no reason why the Sunrisers Hyderabad can not go on to win the tournament again. Their batting has strength and depth, with some of the most hard hitting players in the world. As well as this, their bowling is exceptionally strong even with the early absence of Mustafizur Rahman. This will be the side to beat this year.
- David Warner (C)
- Shikhar Dhawan
- Moises Henriques
- Yuvraj Singh
- Naman Ojha
- Deepak Hooda
- Chris Jordan
- Bipul Sharma
- Rashid Khan
- Bhuvneshwar Kumar
- Ashish Nehra