A solid opening combination coupled with an incisive bowling unit has served the defending champions, Sunrisers Hyderabad, well so far in the Indian Premier League (2017). As David Warner and Bhuvneshwar Kumar gear up to spearhead the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s challenge in the eliminator against Kolkata Knight Riders, HT looks at their strengths and weaknesses:
Solid opening combo - That David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan occupy the top two spots among the highest run-getters in this edition of the IPL is proof of how formidable the Sunrisers opening combination has been. Both have used the IPL platform to return to form. The duo has been impressive in the way they pace their innings, switch roles while taking on the opposition and play risk free cricket.
Deadly death bowling - No one has fired in the Yorkers with such accuracy as Bhuvneshwar Kumar in this IPL. The Hyderabad team has been forced to chop and change due to injuries and sudden dip in form of their last year’s strike bowlers Ashish Nehra and Mustafizur Rahman, but the SRH bowlers have continued to dazzle. Led by Bhuvneshwar, they have bowled with guile and superb control at the death to choke the opposition’s charge. The young duo of Siddharth Kaul and Mohammed Siraj has been impressive as well.
Strong spin attack - It had raised a few eyebrows when David Warner included Rashid Khan in his playing eleven in the opening game against Royal Challengers Bangalore. But the Afghanistan leg-spinner has proved to be one of the finds of the tournament, making it a habit of dismissing top batsmen. His senior in the Afghanistan team, Mohammad Nabi, too has been effective in the limited opportunities he has been given. In their do and die game of the second leg against Mumbai Indians, the two Afghans combined to concede just 35 runs in their eight overs together while picking up two crucial wickets.
Too much dependency on top order - The tremendous consistency of their top two – David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan – has papered over the feeble middle order of SRH. They have missed a batsmen who could hold the innings together. Yuvraj Singh, who is capable of playing that role, started brightly but after that he has shown only in patches, his contribution has been restricted to mainly cameo roles.
Sloppy fielding - Probably getting his fielding act right is the biggest challenge for captain David Warner as SRH do not boast of too many athletic men in the field. Yuvraj Singh has become a slow mover, Rashid Khan’s lack of top-level competition has been exposed in his fielding, and rookie pacer Mohammed Siraj too is a weak-link. SRH will need to pull up their socks in fielding as a couple of extra runs can prove decisive in close matches.
Fragile lower order - Batting deep is crucial in the slam bang version, where going full throttle even at the expense of losing wickets is an accepted gameplan and for that, contributions from the lower order is important. SRH, however, has been lacking the impetus provided by big hitting in the slog overs. They will need to bolster the department against KKR’s sharp attack.