IPL’s Most Intelligent Team Sunrisers Eye Another Fruitful Season
If there is one team in the IPL that knows how to maximise its resources, it is the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The franchise has gone through a lot of ups and downs since its inception. The team was originally known as the Deccan Chargers and was successful in winning the 2009 title under the captaincy of Adam Gilchrist. But the team did not qualify for the playoffs in 2011 and 2012. Its name changed to Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013 and brought about a change in fortunes as well. The franchise has since ended as champions and runners-up once each.
A lot of credit for that goes to Tom Moody, VVS Laxman and Muttiah Muralitharan – the team management’s leading minds who have been immaculate with their auction strategy and the team selections.
Shikhar Dhawan Out, Many Replacements in Place
This year, SRH traded Shikhar Dhawan to Delhi Capital (formerly Delhi Daredevils).
Now, many might wonder what kind of a move is that? Dhawan is a top Indian opening batsman and even if he does not have a great season, he will give you 325-350 runs. So, it seems to be a safe bet that in a couple of games, Dhawan might just change the course of the match on his own.
However, by trading him to the Capitals, SRH have got a lot of bases covered. As it is, with Kane Williamson leading the side and ending as the highest run-scorer in IPL 2018 and David Warner returning at the top of the order after his one-year ban, the team can do without Dhawan.
As a backup, they have bought Kiwi opener Martin Guptill. He might never get an opportunity to play, but at Rs 1 crore, he is their contingency plan.
They have also roped in Jonny Bairstow who is both a reserve opener and a reserve wicket-keeper. You can question why does a team need Bairstow when it has two Indian wicket-keepers in Shreevats Goswami and Wriddhiman Saha.
This is where the tab of ‘four overseas players in each playing XI’ comes in. Sunrisers Hyderabad want to have similar options, both in the local and foreign columns, which allow them several permutations and combinations, depending on whether they want to play an extra overseas batter or a bowler.
By trading Dhawan, they have also bagged Abhishek Sharma, Vijay Shankar and Shahbaz Nadeem in return. Shankar is a gun batter in the middle order and provides an extra bowling option. Abhishek Sharma is an U-19 star and a clean striker of the ball as he has showed in a couple of innings for DD last year. Spinner Shahbaz Nadeem has almost become a veteran in the domestic circuit and bowls a hard length in T20s.
Backing Kane Williamson as Captain
In 2018, when Sunrisers Hyderabad were faced with the question of captaincy after Warner was not allowed to be a part of the season by IPL's governing body, the franchise had two clear options – Shikhar Dhawan or Kane Williamson.
Most teams would have gone for Dhawan as he is an Indian player whose stocks were also on the rise then. However, being a good player does not necessarily translate into being a good captain. This is where the SRH team management weighed its options.
Williamson is a well respected figure in the group. He knew the tricks of the trade as he had already captained the New Zealand national team for some time. Athough Williamson is a cool, calm and collected individual, the Kiwi skipper had not been an automatic pick in the past seasons and giving him the captaincy might as well have backfired.
If he had failed in a few matches, his place in the team would have been questioned, let alone the captaincy. Against all odds, the team made made a brave move of going with Williamson and reaped rich dividends.
Having Faith in 5 Bowlers
Another tactic unique to Sunrisers Hyderabad is that they mostly go in with only five frontline bowlers, unlike other franchises that can have eight or nine bowling options. By doing so, SRH entrust a lot of faith in those bowlers.
It is also true that they have a reliable lot of bowlers in Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Billy Stanlake, Shakib Al Hasan, Siddarth Kaul and Mohammad Nabi – on whom the onus of bowling their complete quota of overs can be put.
This inculcates a sense of responsibility among the bowlers. You know there's no one else waiting in the wings. So you better be on the top of your game.
These options give SRH a lot of fluidity and flexibility in the selections. Backed by utility players and unparalleled brains, SRH look set for another solid IPL season.
(Saksham Mishra is a freelance sports journalist, justifying hours of watching sports by scribbling down a few logical lines that might just about hold your interest.)
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