IPL 2017 May 18, 2017

Warner, Bhuvneshwar sparkle in solid Sunrisers season

A second title in a row proved beyond Sunrisers Hyderabad but, with a well-assembled squad, missing only an elite lower-order hitter, they ended their season with far more positives than negatives

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Agarkar: Relying too much on Warner hurt Sunrisers

Where they finished

Lost the Eliminator to Kolkata Knight Riders after finishing third in the league stage.

The good

Sunrisers won the 2016 IPL title primarily on the back of their bowlers; Mustafizur Rahman, in particular. He only played one match this season, but they hardly missed him, as Rashid Khan took over the role of the go-to overseas bowler, undoing the opposition frequently with deadly variations. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who won the Purple Cap last season, has an excellent chance of doing so again - he ended his tournament with 26 wickets - and, at the time of writing, his nearest active challenger, Jaydev Unadkat, has 22.

While Sunrisers' batting was exaggeratedly top-heavy in 2016, responsibilities were distributed far better this season, with Kane Williamson (256 runs at a strike rate of 151.47), Yuvraj Singh (252 runs at 142.37) and Moises Henriques (277 at 136.45) complementing the efforts of David Warner (641 at 141.81) and Shikhar Dhawan (479 at 127.39).

Warner, as always, was phenomenal, scoring four fifties and a brutal 59-ball 126 against Kolkata Knight Riders, and ended the tournament with a 155-run gap from his nearest rival, Gautam Gambhir, in the race to the Orange Cap.

The bad

Having begun the tournament as its best-performing bowling team by some distance, they ended up looking over-reliant on Bhuvneshwar and Rashid through its second half. Siddarth Kaul and Mohammed Siraj showed flashes of potential, but couldn't entirely make up for Ashish Nehra missing large chunks of the tournament due to injury. The biggest disappointment, though, was Henriques. Last season, he had struggled with the bat while proving to be a valuable bowling asset - he took 12 wickets at an economy rate of 7.98. This season, he flipped that performance around, excelling with the bat while only taking one wicket in 12 matches and conceding 10.33 runs per over.

The missing ingredient

  • Sunrisers' Powerplay run rate, 7.73, was the second-lowest in the league, above only Royal Challengers Bangalore's 6.53. This wasn't so much owing to a lack of form or hitting ability in Sunrisers' top order, as it was due to an unusually cautious approach: Sunrisers only lost 11 wickets in 14 Powerplays - the least among all teams.
  • It is quite possible that they adopted this approach due to a lack of faith in the lower-middle order. The numbers seem to bear this out: Sunrisers' top five had, by far, the best average, 42.32, in the tournament, with Knight Riders a distant second with 34.96. But Sunrisers' strike rate, 139.39, was only the fifth-best.
  • As a result, Sunrisers' Nos. 6 and 7, only faced 88 balls in the tournament. By contrast, the batsmen occupying those positions for Knight Riders, who faced the second-fewest balls among all the teams, faced nearly twice as many balls - 170. Naman Ojha, Sunrisers' wicketkeeper, only batted five times in 14 matches.
  • Sunrisers may have structured their innings differently had they possessed a proper lower-order hitter - ideally an Indian batsman - since the presence of so many other quality overseas players had already restricted Ben Cutting to playing only four matches.
  • Being able to take more risks during the Powerplay may have swung a couple of tight matches Sunrisers' way. This is lent some credence by their performance in their away game against Rising Pune - Warner and Dhawan made 73 off 69 between them, and Sunrisers only lost three wickets while scoring 176. Pune chased it down in an MS Dhoni-inspired last-ball finish.

Out of their control

The rain in Bengaluru, twice. The first time, it washed out their match against a Royal Challengers Bangalore team low on form and morale. It was a contest they may have expected to win but, due to the one-point sharing rule, they eventually finished a point behind second-placed Rising Pune Supergiant in the league stage, despite boasting a better net run rate.

The second time rain hit the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, it arrived halfway through their Eliminator on Wednesday. They had only made 128, but conditions were challenging to bat in. Their bowling attack could have made a decent fist of defending 128 in 20 overs; instead, they had to defend 47 in six. With early strikes, they still managed to cause some flutters in the Knight Riders camp, reducing them to three down in 1.1 overs.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Brishni on May 21, 2017, 8:22 GMT

    Let's be honest : SRH Coach Tom Moody is an excellent judge of potential and form.

    If he selected Rashid Khan & Mohd. Nani then it's because they were in better form this season than Fizz. Also Bangla Cricket board wanted Fizz back before IPL playoffs for the Ireland series, just like Shakib. So team mgmt had no choice but rest them. You want experience going into playoffs.

  • carsgo0135897 on May 20, 2017, 20:43 GMT

    SRH would have won 3 matches atleast in group stages and would had two chances to get to final. One was with RCB , rain hit. other was against KKR in kolkata, umpiring error(uttappa), third was against Pune, dhoni brilliance. Pune played well but they got lucky lot of times.

  • cool on May 20, 2017, 19:42 GMT

    Srh played better this year than last. Had not the washed out game vs RCB they should have been in Hyd by now waiting for the qualifier to play finals. They would have easily beaten MI in wankhede. Mostly it would have been MI vs Hyd again finals . Regarding Fizz, guys chill ,it's BD team which wanted him to rest and then go on to prepare for CT. Hyd management knew he wasn't available at the backend of tournament so they decided to try out other local talents . It was actually blessing in disguise as Williamson & Rashid came out as trump cards. Out of all teams only SRh has like for like replacements. Siraj and kaul for nehra, Kane for Henriques , Rashid or Nabi for Fizz, dwivedi for naman ,Vijayshanker or Hooda for Yv and so on. Good team selections ,horses for courses . Cutting wasn't bowling well, Henriques was better than him in 2 departments bowling & fielding . Batting may be cutting had edge. What ever KKR got 100% lucky but lost it when weather was ok. Wish it was SRh vs RPS .

  •   Alokito Adhar on May 20, 2017, 10:06 GMT

    Afgan fans are flying high and start to underestimate other players after getting the chance in IPL for the 1st time!

  • cool on May 20, 2017, 6:21 GMT

    @whitebird Fizz played against NZ c team right? What was the match result?

  • cool on May 20, 2017, 6:20 GMT

    When they play well, they win. When they play bad, they lose. Opposition team just play the guest appearance.

  • viswanath on May 20, 2017, 5:05 GMT

    SRH is complaining about the rain affected game vs KKR. But it is KKR who would have mostly wont the match , as target was 129 runs despite pitch being on a slower side. SRH has only themselves to blame , rather blaming the rain. Yuvi has played few good knocks this season. It is their no 6 and no 7 batsman who has failed to score quick runs. deepak hooda and naman ojha has been disappointing.

  • Sai on May 19, 2017, 23:58 GMT

    SRH was unlucky this year... they could have easily gone deeper in the tournament had they won the rain hit match against RCB, which would have ensured them a top 2 finish and the D/L method favoring the chasing side in the Eliminator. Granted, they did not bat well in the Eliminator, but they at least deserved a chance to defend their total within 20 overs rather than 6. Overall, they definitely played better than last year, boasting a more complete unit. Hopefully next year, Mustafizur can play a larger role in the team with his immense talent and potential. Good luck Hyderabad for next year; I really love this team!

  •   cricfan98089378 on May 19, 2017, 20:01 GMT

    They have played exceedingly well this year compared to last year and all the top 5 have contributed in every match and the bowlers too have done their job,next year they should look to buy DK who can bring solidarity to the middle order.

  • juhisi9632589 on May 19, 2017, 18:19 GMT

    If our Fizz was playing SRH would have won again.

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