IPL 2016 May 30, 2016

Sunrisers' surge crafted by Warner's talent, bowling grit

A few teams may have thought if they got rid of David Warner and handled Mustafizur Rahman and Bhuvneshwar Kumar well, they could beat Sunrisers Hyderabad. However, even the most power-packed teams were unable to do that well enough

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'Phenomenal Warner on top of his game for Sunrisers'

Where they finished

Champions, by winning a hat-trick of knockout matches.

How they got there

The Sunrisers Hyderabad story isn't quite Moneyball as much as it is 300. The Spartans lured the Persians into a nook between the mountains where the strength of numbers was useless. David Warner was one peak, their fast bowlers formed the other and rarely was an opposition allowed to breach. Sunrisers were able to ward off teams more powerful than themselves in this fashion, like Royal Challengers Bangalore in the final.

To further the analogy, there was plenty of bravery from the players as well. Warner opted to bat first in two must-win matches when the flavour of the season was to chase and while knowing he had to provide most of the runs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept faith in his yorkers when he had begun the season bowling six full-tosses in a seven ball over that cost 28 runs looking for that elusive delivery. Shikhar Dhawan weathered a slow start to the season and became one of five players with 500 runs in the season. Ashish Nehra, failing body or not, was their bowling leader, hitting speeds of 140 kph and mentoring the other fast bowlers in the squad.

Sunrisers began with two losses, but won seven out of the eight games that followed. They waylaid the defending champions Mumbai Indians twice, stunned Gujarat Lions thrice, capsized Royal Challengers twice and bested Kolkata Knight Riders' big-game instinct in the Eliminator. Every one of those teams knew taking out Warner and tempering the impact Bhuvneshwar and Mustafizur Rahman have would have given them a grand chance to win. None of them were able to do so well enough.

Twenty20, by its nature, allows individuals to dictate its course. And Sunrisers proved if those individuals took control of key stages during a match enough times, glory cannot be far behind.


The empowerment of the bowlers. Mustafizur may not have always understood what was told to him, on account of his "problem" with English, but he knew he was Sunrisers' trump card. He had three men in the ring on the off side, even in the slog overs, poised for the cutter that produced the outside edge. Moises Henriques, who is known more for his batting, was given his full quota of overs almost as much as the frontline bowlers. Team mentor VVS Laxman had had a chat with Bhuvneshwar to ensure he did not stray from his pursuit of the blockhole. Ben Cutting, who got to play back-to-back matches only in the knockout stages, was asked to stick to his strengths - back-of-a-length bowling to cramp the batsmen is natural for someone who is 1.92 m [over 6 feet] tall.

The productivity of the captain. Warner expected himself to score quickly in the Powerplay. Then he had to temper himself so that he could bat as deep as he could. So well did he pace his innings that only four times was he stopped from making a fifty once he had crossed a score of 20. To be the kick-starter and the finisher, and to do it as often as he has knowing there wasn't much firepower behind him, showed the growth in his batting and his penchant for leading from the front.


The middle order. Often it seemed taking out the openers meant taking out Sunrisers' chances of a competitive total. Their Nos. 3 to 5 averaged 17.48, the worst among all teams this season, although it improved in the later stages of the tournament. Yuvraj Singh returned from injury to play a couple of vital cameos. Cutting's assault on Sunday night when Sunrisers were slipping away was particularly pleasing, because he did not let his team panic and, instead, instigated panic in the opposition.

Key stats

  • Warner scored 468 runs while chasing in this IPL, the most by a batsman in a single season
  • The Sunrisers fast bowlers took 82 wickets in 2016, the joint second-most for a team in a single IPL season. The Rajasthan Royals quicks took 89 in 2013.
  • Their six wickets taken by their spinners is the least for any team in an IPL season
  • They were the first team to finish outside the top two in the league stage and yet take the trophy, since the Eliminator and Qualfiers were added to the IPL schedule.

Best win(s)

There were two, and both of them featured a quality that has defined Sunrisers. Resilience. They went into Qualifier 2 without Mustafizur and that may have contributed to Warner preferring to chase; to give his bowlers a chance at facing less pressure. After all, two days ago he had said he liked having runs on the board in knockout matches. Gujarat Lions set Sunrisers a target of 163. Sunrisers crumbled to 84 for 5 and an irate Warner needed to vent. It was a quiet kind of anger, barring the outburst with Tom Moody. It was the kind of anger that fuels a person's resolve and makes him dangerous in a fight. By the time Warner was done, he had 93 unbeaten runs and his team was in the final.

The final, where Sunrisers got into a middle-order muddle and got out of it. And where they took blows from Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli, and still came out on top.

Worst defeat

They gave Rising Pune Supergiants one of their five wins in the competition. And it had everything that can give nightmares to a Sunrisers fan. Warner was out for a duck and only three batsmen made double-figures. They were put in to bat, slipped to 32 for 5 and could only manage 118, their second-lowest total in all IPLs. Steven Smith then bullied Mustafizur and denied Sunrisers even the notion of a comeback.

What they need most next season

They seemed to have back-ups ready for most of their key players. When Mustafizur was unfit, Trent Boult came in. With Kane Williamson and Eoin Morgan misfiring in the middle-order, they had a decent replacement in Cutting. In the same way, they bought Yuvraj Singh and Deepak Hooda to strengthen the middle order but the former is on the wane and the latter hasn't displayed the skills to bat long. An experienced player who can control the innings from No. 4 - preferably accustomed to Indian conditions - should be on their shopping list.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ksai307508984 on June 4, 2016, 10:19 GMT

    orange army is in full form

  • sree on June 2, 2016, 8:40 GMT

    Ideal and must-buy players for SRH in next season: Joe Root, Angelo Mathews, Marlon Samuels, Pujara and Ajanta Mendis who are all available. One might argue they are faded forces. But SRH's team strength is to blend experience and strategy, like Nehra, Yuvraj etc. Root brings quality to middle order and he has shown he can play Kholi like innings in T20 world cup. Mathews one of the best all-rounders, Samuels dangerous batsman, Mendis a forgotten mystery. Sounds great n better than Kane, Morgan, Henriques right?

    IPL-10 SRH XI: 1 Warner 2 Dhawan 3 Pujara 4 Yuvraj 5 Samuels 6 Mathews/Cutting 7 Ojha 8 Bipul 9 Bhuvi 10 Sran/Nehra 11 Mustfizur/Mendis

    Root and Samuels will fight for middle order place. Mathews and Cutting will fight for all rounder place. Mustafizur and Mendis will fight for mystery bowler place.

  • sree on June 2, 2016, 8:20 GMT

    True that SRH played well and made good strategies throughout the season. They deserve credit. But they must not forget their two biggest weaknesses. Utter failure of Middle order lacking power hitters and a quality spinner. This season a lot of teams other were struggling to find form which helped SRH run in the season. Nevertheless, they will do well to address those weaknesses in upcoming season. They must buy someone like Joe Root or Chateshwar Pujara who can steady that middle order, plus one power hitter down the order. Not sure if anyone worthy available to be picked as big hitter from the left out pool. Hooda, Ojha, Morgan, Kane, Henriques are still big questions in batting. Need to watch out the big-bash or carrabien league for big hitters and Muralitharan must spot a mystery spinner from Srilanka.

  • Ashok on June 1, 2016, 13:26 GMT

    SRH need 2 reliable & aggressive bats at #3 & #4 + 2 "Finishers" at #5 & 6 to back up the openers Warner & Dhawan. Their bowling with Nehra, Kumar & Mustafizur spear heading the attack + Cutting as back up is good. Hooda & Yuvraj failed in the middle order, albeit Yuvraj played a couple of good innings in the KO rounds. Cutting was superb in the Final as the "Finisher" with 39 of 17 balls. If an all rounder like Russel is added, SRH will have 2 finishers. I also feel Sarfaraz Khan is a good power hitting local choice in the middle order. SRH need a good spinner like Zampa, who was wasted by Dhoni's Pune Super Giants!.He was easily the best spinner of IPL 9. Parthiv Patel as WK &#3 bat followed by Yuvraj, Sarfaraz, Russel & Cutting provides a good middle order with Kumar, Fizz, Nehra & Zampa as 4 specialist bowlers make up the XI supporting the openers Warner & Dhawan - My XI for SRH in 2017 IPL.

  •   Pbm Prasad on June 1, 2016, 10:23 GMT

    The most funny part was that the bowling coach is muralitharan...who is a gr8 spinner...its hard to find out how he handled these pace bowlers

  • Harsh on May 31, 2016, 18:11 GMT

    This SRH superbly blended talent,organization and temperament.It resembled a well-knit army capable of handling varying situations and adjusting to different circumstances.I have never seen a more organized and effective bowling atck in IPL cricket or any side posessing such mastery in bowling at the death.They superbly deployed the yorkers,short balls,slower deliveries in proportionate scale.No team has ever displayed that IPL can be as much game for bowlers as batsmen.Infact in this edition for the 1st time was bowling marginally more effective than batting.Sunrisers shattered the myth of the RCB invincibility in the final.I have never seen an IPL team who can defend a total as well as Sunrisers who resembled swordsman.Rehman's yorkers and bowling at death was comparable to that of Garner or Holding.David Warner led with the skill of a military commander.I have never seen an attack in an IPL final creating such a reversal of plot or sticking to the task as well as the SRH.did.

  • sree on May 31, 2016, 18:11 GMT

    SRH icing on cake in this season - 3 wins on Guj Lions including semifinal, 2 on RCB, 2 on MI, Eliminator KKR - Oooooh whoever said they were underdogs...that is just no fluke. SRH are big big boys. Next season they will go in as favorites in most matches. Interesting to see results. By the way add Start and Badree to RCB batting, then they are sure to go to another finals.

  • Michael Ponnudurai on May 31, 2016, 17:01 GMT

    When match was over, and the local team was beaten, a scan across the stadium would have pointed out the beauty of pseudo interest in cricket coupled with fanatic patriotism. Not even 5-10% remained in stadium to applaud the victorious, it was just because the victors were not local franchisee team! Hail pseudo ism and patriotism! Down down real love for cricket!

  • mukesh on May 31, 2016, 15:45 GMT

    Don't understand why SRH needs replacement for middle order. Especially someone picking out Williamson for replacement is not cool. Williamson is top order batter and only replacement available if Warner is unavailable or injured and has his international pedigree to support this argument also he is not a middle order player. Morgan is middle order batter proven late order hitter good injury replacement for big hitters. Hooda is only unproven player who didn't have good season. Naman also didn't had good season but was sensational behind wickets . Yuvi's hay days have been over but he did perform his bit in both upping the ante and grinding when required . Moises has been a failure by his huge account of IPL achievements from 2015 . He is a batting allrounder and does decent containment job. No need for any replacements but just prey for Ashish nehra to comeback stronger that fixes most problems. Need at least one wrist spinner or young Indian spinner from upcoming tournaments !

  • sree on May 31, 2016, 15:37 GMT

    What SRH need next season?? Joe Root, Jason Roy, Moeen Ali, Marlon Samuels and Two mystery spinners must be on their shopping list. Also it went unnoticed that they don't have back up wicket keeper. Manvinder Bisla may be an economical option.

    SRH XI Next Season:

    1 Warner 2 Dhawan 3 Joe Root 4 Yuvraj 5 Samuels/Cutting 6 NOjha 7 Bipul 8 Bhuvi 9 Sran 10 Nehra 11 Mustafizur

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