Playing their seventh edition of the tournament, the Sunrisers Hyderabad are eager to make a statement after narrowingly missing out on winning the elusive trophy for the second time last year.
Boosted with the return of David Warner, the 2016 IPL winners have become a force to be reckoned with. They have maintained their thirst for victory with excellence by becoming one of the most consistent sides in the competition over the last few seasons.
The recently culminated auctions and the trade windows were highly eventful for the franchise. The side-parted ways with longtime stalwart Shikhar Dhawan to rope in Vijay Shankar, Shahbaz Nadeem and 17-year-old Abhishek Sharma from the newly reformed Delhi Capitals.
To fill the void left by the departure of the flamboyant left-hander, the Orange Army made amends in the auction by acquiring the services of New Zealand opener Martin Guptill and England’s Jonny Bairstow. With these buys, the Sunrisers obtained a potential wicket keeping replacement for Saha and hard-hitting batsmen who can capitalise in the powerplays.
The auction also saw names like Carlos Brathwaite depart the franchise, who fell into the radar of the Kolkata Knight Riders for a hefty fee.
Much like the seasons before, the heart of the Sunrisers’ success lies with the bowling unit. Boasting one of the most versatile line-ups, the side has been able to restrict the opponents many a time in the past.
Led by the Orange Army veteran and Purple Cap winner Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the bowling attack has managed to instil fear into opponents with the other names being Rashid Khan, Shakib Al Hasan, Siddharth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, Basil Thampi, Billy Stanlake and Sandeep Sharma.
An area where the Sunrisers faltered over the years has been the middle order. An 11Cr investment in Manish Pandey did not bore them any fruits as the batsman struggled to make runs throughout the tournament. With age catching up on Yusuf Pathan as well, this would be an aspect that needs working on.
The backroom staff led by Tom Moody has been a huge influence on the players and has established Sunrisers Hyderabad as one of the top sides in the competition.
With only four overseas players allowed and the plethora of overseas openers that the sides possess, it would be interesting to see how Warner pans out the playing eleven.
Kane Williamson, who led the side in the absence of Warner last season, churned out the runs to win the Orange Cap. The skipper now has a selection headache in the proposition to plan out the top order with the utmost balance.
With the season fast approaching, the Orange Army will look to work on their issues to add another IPL trophy in their cabinet. The Sunrisers begin their campaign with the toughest of challenges, against the rejuvenated Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens.
Predicted XI: David Warner(c), Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha, Vijay Shankar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Siddharth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed.