Underachieving Sunrisers get balance wrong
Where they finished
Sixth, with six wins in 14 games.
What went right
Not much went to plan for Sunrisers Hyderabad as a unit, but there were noteworthy individual performances. David Warner was their best batsman and with 528 runs was the tournament's fourth-highest run-scorer at the end of the league stage. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the standout Indian bowler, exceeding expectations both in the UAE and in India.
What went wrong
Sunrisers had invested in big names at the auction but failed to get the balance right. A strong top order with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Warner and Aaron Finch was followed by a weak middle order. Warner's batting position was not stable. He started out in the top order, but had to be demoted to cover the slack in the middle. Sunrisers experimented by sandwiching a young Indian batsman, KL Rahul, between the openers and Warner and while it was successful in one match, Sunrisers could not apply it on a consistent basis.
One of the reasons for the constant shuffling was the indifferent form of the captain Dhawan. In the closing stages, Sunrisers relieved him of the captaincy to help him focus on his batting and Darren Sammy took over. The plan worked in helping Dhawan get his rhythm back but the team had bigger worries. Having lost four games in the halfway stage of their campaign, they had plenty of catching up to do to make the playoffs and hence had to not only sweep their remaining games, but also rely on other results to go their way. Having lost three successive games at home in Hyderabad - where they had a good record in 2013 - the situation got desperate. They recovered lost ground with two successive wins, but it proved to be too little too late.
Aside from the batting, another factor in Sunrisers' underwhelming performance was the ineffectiveness of their best bowler Dale Steyn. Steyn enjoyed better returns in the UAE, but in India he was very expensive - he was hit for more than 20 runs in an over on four different occasions in this tournament, by AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni, George Bailey and Yusuf Pathan - and not as penetrative. Fatigue may have been an issue in his case, having played all 14 matches straight after the World T20. Bhuvneshwar carried the attack but support was not forthcoming from Amit Mishra and Ishant Sharma.
Sunrisers Hyderabad scored 1943 runs in the season, the smallest aggregate among all the teams. They also hit the fewest boundaries - 239.
While many Indian bowlers struggled to maintain their rhythm when the IPL shifted from the UAE to more challenging conditions in India, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the only consistent one. Bhuvneshwar managed to maintain an economy-rate of under seven in both countries and his average remained more or less the same. Batsmen found it difficult to negotiate his movement with the new ball and yorkers at the death, and with 20 wickets, he was not only the best Indian bowler but also the joint leading wicket-taker with Sunil Narine at the end of the league stage.
After an impressive showing at the World T20, Amit Mishra's form dipped in the IPL. Having three IPL hat-tricks to his name, he did not meet expectations this time with seven wickets in 10 games. The biggest black mark against him, though, was his economy rate of 9.06. In 2013, it stood at an impressive 6.35. In this edition, he went wicketless in six out of ten games.
With Mishra slipping off the radar, Karn Sharma stepped up and turned in another impressive season for Sunrisers. Karn played all 14 games and took 15 wickets with a best of 4 for 38. He was often brought on to restrict the flow of runs and is among a crop of budding Indian legspinners who have impressed in the tournament.
Their game against Rajasthan Royals witnessed one of the most comical run-outs. Amit Mishra tried to sneak a bye off James Faulkner but his partner Irfan Pathan wasn't interested. Mishra was already halfway down the pitch and had to turn back. The wicketkeeper Sanju Samson had plenty of time to affect a run-out but he missed the mark. Faulkner too had his chance and as Mishra's luck would have it, the fast bowler also failed to knock down the stumps. Third time lucky? No. Mishra showed no urgency whatsoever to get back and casually looked at his partner. That meant there was enough time for Samson, who finally got his aim right to find Mishra short of his crease. All three characters had their moment of embarrassment but among them, Mishra would not want to see that replay ever again.
Ashish Reddy, Ricky Bhui, Manpreet Juneja, Chama Milind, Prasanth Parameswaran, Amit Paunikar, Brendan Taylor.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo