Coming into the 2022 season of the Indian Premier League, wooden spoon holders in the 2021 edition – SunRisers Hyderabad made a bold move. After a very public fallout with their legendary captain David Warner, which assured that he was going to be offloaded ahead of the mega auctions, SRH decided that they would let go of two of their best players in the past few years – Rashid Khan and Jonny Bairstow.
The goal was simple. Since too many cooks spoil the broth – SRH kept one leader – Kane Williamson, for a hefty sum of Rs 14 crore, and two very promising youngsters – Abdul Samad and Umran Malik, both hailing from Jammu and Kashmir – a state that is not very well known for producing cricketing talents.
Once they fixed on their retention, SRH put together a stellar coaching staff – Brain Lara, Dale Steyn, Muttiah Muralitharan, Simon Katich and Hemang Badani, who would work under the watchful eyes of Tom Moody.
The auctions came, players were brought for skyrocketing prices, and then something weird happened – Simon Katich stepped down due to personal reasons.
“Alarm bells started when Simon Katich left just after the auction. That’s normally not a great sight because Katich is one of the most generally good people.”
“It’s really injustice really if people really go against what they say. So obviously something has gone down there that Katich stepped away immediately and won’t be a part of it. That’s a warning sign to start with,” Watson said on ‘The Grade Cricketer’ Podcasts,” said Shane Watson in a popular cricket podcast.
And that’s what it was – the season for SRH – full of potential, but there was something that didn’t quite fit right.
SunRisers is one of the two franchises in the Indian Premier League that has gone about giving youngsters a chance to showcase their talents. They went about their usual ways, in the same manner, this year as well.
Indian speedster Umran Malik was a revelation in his first full season with the team. He lit up the scene with his tearaway pace that frightened the opposition batters.
He finished with 22 wickets at the end of the group stage, fourth highest in the season.
Forming a core
Abhishek Sharma was another bright light in the campaign. The attacking left-hander opened the innings alongside Kane Williamson and turned out to be the highest run-getter for the team with 426 runs.
There were places where SRH stayed true to their brand. The likes of Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar played an exciting brand of cricket which could essentially pave the way for a strong core in the coming seasons.
The retentions have to be one of the worst in the entire Indian Premier League this season. Kane Williamson, however experienced or exceptional, does not merit Rs 14 crore in the modern T20 game. SRH splashed the cash on him and it did end up burning their fingers.
216 runs from 13 games, at a strike rate of 93 is statistically worse than what got David Warner fired in the last season.
Lack of balance
Playing the Indian Premier League without an internationally recognised spinner is a big problem and it is proven by the fact that four out of the top six wicket-takers are spinners at the end of the group stages.
The lack of an attacking option resulted in the downfall of the bowling unit, which was never quite balanced.
Captain Kane Williamson’s opening position also the SRH batting order after the Kiwi failed to give a good start in a single game. The lack of momentum on top put pressure on the rest of the batting order, who were playing together for the first time this year.
Nicholas Pooran has gone on record saying that SRH could have won more games, if would not have run out of batting partners in the middle.
What to look forward to?
If SRH are bold enough to sack Kane Williamson and buy him back at a much cheaper price, SRH could be well set. Using Kane as a floater against spin will have its merits and SRH can use a good chunk of that money to invest in a top-order batter and a wrist spinner next season.
The middle order of the franchise is quite set with the likes of Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram and Nicholas Pooran showing the ability that they can take control in the game.
A few tweaks here and there can change this team’s identity into what it was supposed to be – a strong unit that can punch above their weight and play some exciting brand of cricket.