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Feature

Can a mix of experience and youth take Sunrisers Hyderabad forward?

David Warner and Rashid Khan are no longer in the team, but Sunrisers boast a potent bowling attack. Will that be enough?

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
23-Mar-2022
Can Kane Williamson the captain lead Sunrisers to glory following a disappointing 2021?  •  BCCI

Can Kane Williamson the captain lead Sunrisers to glory following a disappointing 2021?  •  BCCI

Where they finished

Sunrisers Hyderabad finished last in a season where little went right. David Warner lost his place midway, with Kane Williamson taking over the captaincy. Then there were the off-field murmurs over their handling of Warner and benching of youngsters even after they were eliminated. All of this may have led to Trevor Bayliss' exit along with a slew of other changes in the coaching staff. This season has started on a controversial note already with Simon Katich resigning as assistant coach after being unhappy over their auction strategy. Can the Sunrisers turn it around on the field?

Potential First XI

1 Rahul Tripathi, 2 Abhishek Sharma, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 5 Aiden Markram, 6 Abdul Samad, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Marco Jansen, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 T Natarajan, 11 Umran Malik

Player Availability

Injury management, not player availability, is the bigger concern. Williamson has a long-standing elbow niggle. T Natarajan is returning from long stretches of rehabilitation for knee troubles. Washington Sundar is returning from a hamstring injury he picked up in February during the West Indies ODIs at home. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has also had a troubled two years with various injuries.

Batting

For all their riches earlier, there was a sense of dependency around Warner and Williamson to do the heavy lifting. They've given a huge boost to Abdul Samad by retaining him, along with the likes of Priyam Garg and Abhishek Sharma, who have been bought back. Role clarity will be key for their younger players as they seek to identify a new template that helps them put behind the disappointment of 2021. Rahul Tripathi's inclusion comes as a massive boost in their quest to identify this early.
Aiden Markram and Washington give them multi-skilled abilities, while Pooran, who has had the experience of playing on Indian wickets for a while now, is expected to keep wickets and shore up the middle order.
They also have the uniquely different Glenn Phillips. Apart from being an excellent keeper and a bristling batter, he can offer overs of offspin, both with the new ball and at other times, something he has done for New Zealand. This is a definite possibility because the Sunrisers' squad composition allows them the luxury of picking primarily an Indian attack.

Bowling

Bhuvneshwar is the new-ball specialist, Natarajan the death-overs king. Umran Malik's hustling pace adds to the exciting variety. They have the all-round abilities of Washington, Samad and Markram to boot. Marco Jansen is coming off an impressive maiden home season as an international cricketer, and will be looking to build on his initiation. If they go slightly left-field, they can look at Romario Shepherd, who offers a fast-bowling option and handy lower-order hitting.
The absence of a pedigreed legspinner - no Rashid Khan, remember - could be a bit of an issue. They do have Shreyas Gopal in the line-up, but the Karnataka legspinner has been up and down on form, and hasn't been the same potent force he was with Rajasthan Royals a few years ago. Although this could be an opportunity for him to make a name for himself.

Young Players to Watch Out for

Umran Malik was raw and unpolished when he burst into the scene late last year. Since then, he's become more aware of his body, the technicalities of his action, load-up, follow through and other areas having trained for a better part of the last three months under National Cricket Academy coaches. He has also been a net bowler with the Indian team, and had a stint with Jammu & Kashmir during the domestic season. Can he build on his impressive initiation?
Abhishek Sharma was part of India's Under-19 World Cup winning batch of 2018, but hasn't always garnered the same kind of attention as the more-established Shubman Gill or Prithvi Shaw. Having worked on his bit-hitting - he was always a clean striker - under Yuvraj Singh, Abhishek comes with renewed hope and confidence of impressing, like he has for Punjab in domestic cricket. Key to getting the best out of him will be to give him a role and back him with games, which hasn't always happened in the past

Coaching staff

Tom Moody (Head coach), Dale Steyn (bowling coach), Brian Lara (batting coach), Muttiah Muralidaran (spin bowling coach), Hemang Badani (fielding coach)

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo