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Team review: Sunrisers Hyderabad boosted by team effort in injury-affected season

The Sunrisers could do with an experienced, Indian middle-order batsman for the next season

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar
Where did they finish?
After just three wins in their first nine games, the Sunrisers Hyderabad bounced back to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth straight season. They were third at the end of the league stage, tied with the Royal Challengers Bangalore on 14 points but ahead on net run rate. The Sunrisers beat the Royal Challengers in the Eliminator but couldn't get past the Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 2.
What went right?
The move to bat Kane Williamson at No. 4. It not only lent stability to an otherwise inexperienced middle order but also gave the openers more freedom. In all, Williamson scored 317 runs at 45.28 with a strike rate of 133.75, including a match-winning half-century in the Eliminator and a 45-ball 67 in Qualifier 2. Before the start of the tournament, the debate was if Williamson should be in the playing XI. By the end, David Warner was calling him the team's banker.
The gamble of benching Jonny Bairstow in order to fit both Williamson and Jason Holder in the playing XI also proved fruitful. Coming in as Bairstow's replacement, Wriddhiman Saha provided the Sunrisers with flying starts in Warner's company, while Holder played a couple of decisive knocks with the bat apart from picking up 14 wickets in seven games.
Plus, the Sunrisers peaked just at the right time, winning their last three league games against what turned out to be the three other teams qualifying for the playoffs. It was a team effort, with different players putting their hands up at crucial times. Holder, Sandeep Sharma and Saha were some of the unlikely heroes for them during this period, while youngsters Abdul Samad and Priyam Garg, and Abhishek Sharma showed spark that promised a bright future.
What went wrong?
Injuries to key players at key junctures. A thigh injury ended Bhuvneshwar Kumar's season after the fourth game. Vijay Shankar kept picking up niggles, which robbed them of their sixth bowling option. Saha's torn hamstring meant they had to play Shreevats Goswami for the playoffs. Amid all this, it took them as long as nine games to find their best XI.
Key numbers
  • Seventy-one. The number of yorkers bowled by T Natarajan in the tournament, more than double the next best. He conceded 57 off these 71 deliveries - an economy of 4.81 - while picking up five wickets, including that of AB de Villiers in the Eliminator.
  • Four, the number of bowlers (Rashid Khan, Natarajan, Sharma and Holder) with ten or more wickets for the Sunrisers at the end of the league stage. The only other team with four such bowlers were the Mumbai Indians.
  • Star performers
    Rashid Khan was by far the best player for the Sunrisers. Of late, the teams have started playing out his four overs, and while Khan also maintains his main aim is to bowl economically, he was equally incisive this time around. With 20 wickets in 16 matches at an economy of 5.37, he was not only the leading wicket-taker for his side but also the go-to man for Warner each time he wanted to wrest back control.
    Warner once again showed why he is the most consistent batsman in the IPL. Despite a slow start to the season, he was at his belligerent best in the second half and finished with 548 runs at an average of 39.14 and a strike rate of 134.64. He has now scored at least 500 runs in each of his last six IPL seasons.
    What needs immediate fixing?
    If all their players are available, they have most bases covered for the next edition. A fit Shankar can replace Garg in the playing XI. A fit Kumar can replace Holder, with Mohammad Nabi coming in for Shahbaz Nadeem. Having said that, they can still do with an experienced, Indian middle-order batsman.

    Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo