The world's leading T20 leggie talks about how he fell in love with the game and what his parents taught him about dealing with stardom
Despite inheriting a team (the new owners retained 20 players from the Chargers squad, including Kumar Sangakkara as captain) Sunrisers took some time to form a stable core. In the first two years, they trialled four captains, Sangakkara, Cameron White, Daren Sammy and Shikhar Dhawan. While their bowling proved their stronger suit in general, they struggled to find their best XI.
Sunrisers began to shape their own identity in 2015, when David Warner was made captain. The team finished sixth that year, but unlike his predecessors, Warner retained the captaincy on the back of his own strong performances. Muthiah Muralidaran also replaced Waqar Younis as bowling consultant around the same time, and the quartet of head coach Tom Moody, mentor VVS Laxman, Murali and Warner worked like a well-oiled machine over the next few years. In 2020, Trevor Bayliss replaced Moody as head coach, and Brad Haddin came in as assistant coach. Moody returned to the Sunrisers camp ahead of the 2021 season, this time as the director of cricket.
In 2016, after finishing third on the points table, Sunrisers won three knockout games on the trot to clinch their maiden title. They also reached the final in 2018 despite the absence of Warner, their captain and best batter.
In 2021, SRH won just three of 14 games and finished at the bottom of the points table, beating their previous lows in 2014 and 2015, when they took sixth place.
Sangakkara’s poor form led to him losing the captaincy midway to White and sitting out half of SRH’s matches. However, Sunrisers’ bowling, spearheaded by Dale Steyn, ensured they finished mid-table in their debut season. They lost to Rajasthan Royals in the eliminator.
The Sunrisers started the tournament with Dhawan as captain but handed over the reins to Sammy towards the end to allow Dhawan to focus on his batting. They couldn’t quite find the right balance, with Warner mostly batting in the middle order, and finished with just six wins from 14 games.
Warner took over the captaincy, but it did little to change the team’s fortunes, as SRH failed to qualify for the playoffs for the second successive year. This time they finished with seven wins from 14 matches. Warner himself was the top run getter in the tournament, though.
Their maiden IPL title. Warner was once again at the forefront, and found support from Dhawan with the bat, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman with the ball. After finishing third in the group stage, SRH beat Knight Riders in the eliminator, Gujarat Lions in the second qualifier, and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the final.
The defending champions went out in the eliminator, though Warner won the orange cap and Bhuvneshwar the purple. The season also saw the IPL debuts of Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan of Afghanistan – Nabi won the Player-of-the-Match award in his second game and finished the tournament with 17 wickets from 14 matches.
After Warner was barred from the tournament because of his role in the Newlands ball-tampering incident, Kane Williamson stepped in and led admirably. He topped the run charts with the bat and led the side to the final, where SRH came up short against Shane Watson and Chennai Super Kings.
Warner returned – though not as captain – and finished as the leading run scorer of the tournament for the third time. He and Jonny Bairstow were exceptional as openers, but the middle order and seamers couldn’t quite build on their contributions. A superior net run rate helped them through to the playoffs, where they lost to Delhi Capitals in the eliminator.
With Warner back at the helm, Sunrisers overcame a spate of injuries to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth straight season. They lost to Capitals in the second qualifier but found new heroes in Jason Holder, Sandeep Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha and T Natarajan, who helped them bounce back after six defeats in the first nine games.
A season where little went right for Sunrisers. Warner struggled with the bat and lost his place in the side midway through the tournament. Williamson took over the captaincy but couldn’t turn things around. They lost eight of their first nine games and finished the season with the wooden spoon.
Steyn was the lynchpin around whom Sunrisers emerged as a bowling team. In 2013, his 19 wickets from 17 matches at an economy of 5.66 were instrumental in the side winning nine games either by defending totals under 150 or after restricting oppositions to that much.Bhuvneshwar Kumar
When Steyn’s form dipped after 2013, Bhuvneshwar picked up the baton. He was the leading wicket-taker for Sunrisers for four successive years, from 2014 till 2017, winning the purple cap in the last two. He also stood in as captain in 2019 when Williamson was injured.David Warner
Warner is easily the most prolific run scorer for Sunrisers, topping the 500-run mark in six of his seven seasons with them. They won their first IPL title under him, and if there’s one player fans associate most with Sunrisers, it’s Warner.Rashid Khan
Since his debut in 2017, Rashid has been the MVP for Sunrisers, with batters struggling against his quick legbreaks and googlies. Though teams have looked to play out his four overs of late, his haul of wickets for the franchise is second only to Bhuvneshwar’s and he is the most economical bowler in IPL history.Kane Williamson
Williamson doesn’t get to play every match, but whenever he has got a chance, he has done commendably, be it with the bat - only Warner and Dhawan have more runs for the Sunrisers - or while leading the side.