The CricViz preview of Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Strong overseas players
SRH have a superb cast of overseas players with cover in most areas. David Warner is probably the world’s pre-eminent T20 opener while Rashid Khan is the world’s best wrist spinner (although Imran Tahir is challenging him of late). In addition to these two players who are on track for hall of fame T20 status SRH have two elite players in Jonny Bairstow and Mohammad Nabi. Bairstow is one of a coterie of brilliant top order players in the bracket just below Warner. Nabi is one of arguably only half a dozen genuine all rounders in the world game: capable of getting into teams for their batting or bowling alone. Behind these four overseas players they have Kane Williamson as an alternate batting option. Williamson may find it hard to break into the starting XI with Warner and Bairstow around but the Kiwi anchor is likely to enjoy conditions in the UAE where his gap finding will be useful. As a back-up to Nabi SRH have two all rounders: left-arm spinner Fabian Allen, who is one of the most exciting young players in the world—and could come in for Nabi against right-hander heavy teams; and the medium pace all rounder Mitchell Marsh who could come in on surfaces that suit seam bowlers more – although there are likely to be few of them. Marsh is a big hitter and could be useful to clear the large boundaries but he won’t suit the pitches as much as he does in Australia. SRH’s only overseas bowler is Billy Stanlake. Stanlake brings a rare skill-set of pace and bounce but his recent form—he took four wickets at an average of 74.50 in the BBL—is a concern.
SRH have been defined by the top-heavy nature of their batting for a number of years now and while they’ll hope an Indian middle order containing the likes of Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar and talented youngsters Abdul Samad and Virat Singh can help remedy that, they do look top-heavy once again. Warner and Bairstow are one of the world’s best opening partnerships, not only because they are both elite players but they provide a right-hand, left-hand combination and are both excellent runners between the wickets – something that will be particularly valuable on the larger outfields in Abu Dhabi. SRH are likely to be provided with excellent starts by their dynamic opening duo once again and if either of them fall out of form or pick up an injury they have Williamson as an excellent replacement option who would be a first choice selection at a number of other teams.
Quantity of bowling depth
SRH have a lot of bowlers. Rashid and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are certain to start but after that they have as many as five domestic (Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, Basil Thampi and T Natarajan) and one overseas (Billy Stanlake) frontline pace bowling options – all of whom could play at some point in the season. In the spin department they have at least five options after Rashid: three local left-arm spinners Shabhaz Nadeem and all rounders Sanjay Yadav and Abhishek Sharma; one overseas left-arm spinner: Allen; one overseas off spinner: Nabi and two part-time leg spinners in Samad and Singh. SRH’s success under the now departed coach Tom Moody was built on their bowling attack and it seems as if Trevor Bayliss is going to continue with a similar theme with this squad boasting a large number of bowlers, covering a lot of bases in terms of bowler-types and match-ups.
Middle order batting
SRH have lacked in the middle order for a number of years now. At the auction they didn’t try to find a quick fix in the form of a quality overseas middle order batsman—if we consider Nabi, Allen and Marsh as finishers—but instead looked to Indian retentions Pandey, Shankar and Wriddhiman Saha and new recruits Samad, Singh and Abhishek. This is a middle order of potential but not one that they are necessarily going to be very confident in. SRH will be desperate for Pandey to have a good season – if he can provide a bridge between the opening partnership and the middle order, protecting the younger players from being exposed too early or to tough situations – it will go a long way to SRH’s batting firing as a unit. Pandey had an okay season last year but his batting impact across his career is negative – SRH need more from their marquee Indian batsman. Shankar is the experienced figure in the lower middle order but he struggled last season and also has a negative career batting impact in the IPL. SRH will be hoping youngsters Samad—who is a superb spin hitter and Abhishek and Singh—who provide left-handed options, make good on their potential.
Bowlers in poor form
Sunrisers may have a lot of bowling options but the quality of them remains unclear with questions growing around the form of a number of their pace bowlers in particular. Bhuvneshwar is the leader of the attack and remains a good bowler at this level but his season-on-season returns offer cause for concern with his average impact in the tournament falling for the last two consecutive seasons. Similar trends can also be discerned for Kaul and Sandeep. Khaleel is one bowler trending in the opposite direction and given he provides a left-arm option he is likely to start the season for SRH. The form of Bhuvneshwar, Kaul and Sandeep is doubly concerning given Stanlake’s poor BBL campaign and makes SRH’s decision not to sign another overseas bowler more surprising. They actually opted to release Chris Jordan. Similar questions also exist around the quality of SRH’s spin depth with only Rashid and Nabi options that can be relied upon and even Rashid does not escape SRH’s form issues: his average impact has fallen for three consecutive years and is lower this year than in any other year of his career so far.
High pace options
Questions around SRH’s bowling attack run deeper than simply form but also apply to the skill-sets available. All of SRH’s bowlers are of a similar pace and none—except Stanlake who is unlikely to play—can be categorised as anything more than fast-medium. While the move to the UAE is likely to make cutters and variations more effective high pace is still high pace and SRH’s bowling attack does lack ball-speed.
- David Warner (LH)
- Jonny Bairstow (RH & WK)
- Manish Pandey (RH)
- Abdul Samad (RH)
- Vijay Shankar (RH & RMF)
- Mohammed Nabi (RH & OB)
- Virat Singh (LH & LB)
- Rashid Khan (LB)
- Bhuvneshwar Kumar (RFM)
- Siddarth Kaul (RFM)
- Khaleel Ahmed (LFM)
Warner and Rashid are locks and Bairstow—after his 2019 season—almost certainly is as well which leaves one spot to be competed for by Williamson, the three all rounders and Stanlake. Which option they go for may depend on the form of the Indian top order, middle order and bowlers with the one that struggles likely to be covered by the fourth overseas pick. Starting the season with Nabi, after his supreme CPL, is the most likely option – particularly given he is so well-suited to conditions in the UAE but SRH may well be flexible with this spot to play to match-ups with Allen coming in against right-hander heavy teams, Marsh if conditions don’t suit spin and Stanlake against teams vulnerable against high pace.
Make-up of the domestic quicks
As leader of the attack Bhuvneshwar can be expected to play and given his excellent campaign last year so too can Khaleel. That leaves one spot up for grabs with Sandeep, Kaul and Thampi scrapping for selection.