- Cricket Winner | April 21, 2021 | 12:58 pm
Three games into the season, and IPL 2021 has a team still searching for its first win.
To think that the Sunrisers Hyderabad would be in such a situation is even more alarming.
Before the IPL, the Sunrisers looked the most balanced side on paper, with a balanced bowling attack touching all facets.
While the bowling was strong, the batting looked good with a nice top-order and a young blend of batters to help the questioned middle-order.
The names are unique, and the side was tranquil during the auctions and are still struggling to make themselves heard.
In the past, the Sunrisers Hyderabad depended on their bowling.
Their bowling was good enough to defend any total and got stronger with T Natarajan’s emergence.
A score in the 130-140 range was considered a high chase for the opposition from their first season.
The bowling continues to be good, excusing the off-day against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
They played three games against three good sides at Chennai, which can play to the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s strength, considering their spin attack.
A deeper look into their performances would suggest that the eleven has looked good, but the execution has been off.
They got themselves into good positions across the three games but couldn’t closeout.
The bowling was a bit off in the first game, as the Kolkata Knight Riders made 187.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and T Natarajan struggled to find their rhythm, and a fightback from Rashid and Nabi helped Sunrisers restrict them to below 200.
The batting looked good as well, despite failures from Warner and Saha.
Manish Pandey and Jonny Bairstow kept the game alive, but a lack of strike rotation from Manish Pandey and the late arrival of Abdul Samad hurt the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad bought in Jason Holder for the next game to lengthen their batting line-up and have an extra pace option.
The change helped as he took three wickets, and the bowling restricted Bangalore to 149.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad had a low score to chase this time, and Warner got them off to a good start.
He found his touch with a half-century but was bogged down by the dots played by Manish Pandey.
With too many dots in the middle-overs, the pressure got the better of Warner, who was dismissed.
A collapse followed, and a well-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad lost quick wickets.
The middle-order had nobody to guide them through, and a simple chase became a failed one.
The third game against Mumbai followed a similar template.
Sunrisers faced a similar target of 151 and got off to a decent start.
They made a few changes to their line-up with Natarajan injured and Saha out of form.
Bairstow and Warner opened the batting.
Bairstow was going very well but was out hit-wicket, which broke the game open.
Warner, on the other end, wasn’t finding his timing and looked to anchor the innings.
He was run-out, and Manish Pandey was out early, leaving the inexperienced middle-order to finish the task again.
The middle-order once again collapsed, with only Vijay Shankar showing some fight.
The collapse led to another defeat, and the middle-order continues to trouble the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Though the middle-order has been in question, the Sunrisers have made some steps to solve the issue.
With Kane Williamson injured, they have looked at others in the side and went for some younger batsmen against Mumbai.
They bought Virat Singh, and Abhishek Sharma, while Jonny Bairstow was moved up to strengthen the opening pair.
The Sunrisers still have Priyam Garg, who has enjoyed an excellent domestic season and was also a regular member of the last season.
If Kane Williamson takes longer to recover, and the middle-order keeps failing, he may get another go.
Another member of the squad is Kedar Jadhav.
Jadhav is known to be a street-smart cricketer and has a lot of experience as well.
Including him may not be a wrong decision despite his recent IPL form.
With two more options, the Sunrisers Hyderabad have some players who can support the side until Kane Williamson recovers.
While the middle-order hasn’t done enough, another issue Hyderabad has faced is batting second.
The side is known for its bowling, and throughout their successful seasons, they have defended small totals.
After fielding first on three occasions, the Sunrisers Hyderabad may hope for a chance to bat first, allowing the batsman to play with less pressure on them.
With three games done, the Sunrisers still have time before hitting the panic button.
They were in a similar situation last season and looked inconsistent early on but found their momentum towards the back end of the tournament.
Considering their performances over the last five years, one can never rule out a comeback from the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The one thing they may sweat on, though, is the fitness of Kane Williamson.
His presence in the middle-order helps calm the players around him, and Hyderabad will be hoping he returns before it’s too late.