Ever since making their Indian Premier League (IPL) debut in 2013, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have shown sparks of brilliance, but failed to pack a final punch in the competition. They qualified for the play-offs in their first appearance, crashing out after losing to Rajasthan Royals in the eliminator, and have since failed to make it to the top four, finishing sixth in both 2014 and 2015.
But, having released players like Dale Steyn, Kevin Pietersen, Ravi Bopara, Ishant Sharma, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Praveen Kumar, who failed to significantly contribute towards their previous campaign, the Hyderabad management, led by V.V.S. Laxman, the team mentor, and Tom Moody, the coach, bid for a balanced squad during the auction in February.
“The purse on Steyn was spent on power hitters,” Laxman said at the event. “Besides, in the past we couldn’t have Steyn and Boult playing in the same game”
This year, Hyderabad’s batting will be bolstered by the presence of David Warner, Kane Williamson, Shikhar Dhawan, Eoin Morgan, and Yuvraj Singh, with Aditya Tare, Ashish Reddy, Naman Ojha, Ricky Bhui and T Suman adding local flavour to the unit.
In the bowling department, they have an interesting option of choosing from four left-arm pacers (Trent Boult, Ashish Nehra, Barinder Sran and Mustafizur Rahman), three right-arm pacers (Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul and Abhimanyu Mithun), and specialist spinner Karn Sharma.
Moises Henriques, Ben Cutting, Deepak Hooda, Bipul Sharma and Vijay Shankar are the allrounders in the side.
“There will be no excuses this year,” Warner recently said at a press conference. “There is great balance and picking the playing eleven will be tough for the selectors.”
The Hyderabad franchisee has been led by five different players—Kumar Sangakkara, Cameron White, Darren Sammy, Dhawan and Warner— in their three seasons so far. The instability at the helm has led to them switching captains in the middle of the season in the past, but Warner, the current skipper, has so far been the most successful leader for Hyderabad, with seven wins from 12 matches. He also has Williamson and Morgan, who bring valuable leadership insight to the group.
Though Hyderabad’s batting line-up looks pretty solid on paper, most of the big names in the side have had fairly quiet stints in the recently concluded ICC World T20. Warner (Runs: 38; Matches: 4; Average: 9.50), Williamson (Runs: 123; Matches: 5; Average: 24.60), Dhawan (Runs: 43; Matches: 4; Average: 10.75) and Morgan (Runs: 66; Matches: 6; Average: 13.20) have all performed below par. Additionally, Yuvraj, who was bought for 7 crores at the auction, twisted his ankle during India’s World T20 clash against Australia, before being ruled out of the tournament and subsequently, from the first half of the IPL.
2016 auction action
Hyderabad played it smart at the auction, signing veterans such as Yuvraj and Nehra, while also packing the squad with young talents in the form of Mustafizur, Tare, Hooda, Vijay and Mithun. Cutting, who was bought Rs.Rs 50 lakhs, has played a fair amount of T20 cricket in Australia’s domestic competitions and the Big Bash League, while Suman is vastly experienced when it comes to the IPL, having represented Deccan Chargers, Mumbai Indians And Pune Warriors in the past.
Yuvraj, expectedly, was the most expensive buy for Hyderabad in the auction, followed by Nehra, who went for Rs.5.5 crores, and Hooda (Rs.4.2 crores), who is well known for his hitting prowess in the domestic circuit.
Player to watch
Mustafizur, who Laxman admitted he had his eyes on since the youngster’s dream run against India in the One-Day tournament— his debut series— in June last year, was bought for Rs.1.4 crores, with Hyderabad outbidding Royal Challengers Bangalore, who also showed keen interest in the pacer.
One of the only two Bangladesh players— Shakib Al Hasan (Kolkata Knight Riders) being the other— in the competition, Mustafizur has created ripples across the cricket world with consistent performances in limited-overs cricket since making his T20I debut against Pakistan in April last year. He has bagged 26 wickets from nine ODIs and 22 scalps in 13 T20Is in his international career so far.
Mustafizur suffered a side strain injury during the Asia Cup last month, but shone bright for Bangladesh with nine wickets in the last three matches he turned out for in the World T20.
Squad: David Warner (capt), Ashish Reddy, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Bipul Sharma, Karn Sharma, Naman Ojha, Ricky Bhui, Shikhar Dhawan, Siddharth Kaul, Moises Henriques, Eoin Morgan, Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra, Deepak Hooda, Mustafizur Rahman, Aditya Tare, Barinder Sran, Ben Cutting, Vijay Shankar, Abhimanyu Mithun, T Suman.
Himanish Bhattacharjee is Staff Writer at Wisden India. Mint has a content partnership with Wisden India for the Indian Premier League season.