IPL 2022: Chennai Super Kings will have to do the hard running

Sunrisers Hyderabad start as underdogs



Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson. — AP
Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson. — AP

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Sat 9 Apr 2022, 12:01 AM

Last updated: Sat 9 Apr 2022, 12:07 AM

If there is any team that has looked more out of sorts than defending champions Chennai Super Kings and five-time winners Mumbai Indians this year, it is Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are also seeking their first points in the tournament.

The team looks beset by multiple problems. Some quality players who were with the franchise for long like David Warner and Rashid Khan are no longer there. This has left a big dent in both batting and bowling, for, it is hard to replace players of the calibre of these two. Also missing from the squad is accomplished all-rounder Jason Holder, who had a very productive season last year. This time he is with Lucknow Super Giants.

Two stalwarts who are still with SRH are Kane Williamson and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Both have considerable experience and class, but haven’t been at their best in the previous season or playing for their national teams subsequently. Bhuvneshwar has been in and out of the Indian team in white-ball internationals, while Williamson was out of action for a protracted period of time, missing almost the entire previous season for New Zealand, before returning to big cricket with this IPL.

In the two matches they’ve played, SRH looked short on talent and self-confidence. However, there were some sparks of brilliance in the previous match when SRH ran Lucknow Super Giants close before failing at the finish. If anything, this showed signs of the team settling down which CSK’s think-tank would ignore at its own peril. While not exactly bursting with talent, the Sunrisers have a fair number of players who can influence the outcome of a match.

Williamson is a class act, with a reputation for coming good when most needed. Nicholas Pooran, who hit the jackpot in the mega auction, has not quite made the impact expected of him. But he can be difficult to tame if he gets going. Add Washington Sundar, Romario Shepherd, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umran Malik and Abdul Samad, CSK have a battle on hand if SRH play to potential.

As it is, the defending champions are battling with several problems of their own. Neither batting nor bowling has excelled. The big let down have been the team’s leading players. Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo have looked in decent nick, but haven’t really gone beyond cameos. Hardly anybody from the top order has shown the wherewithal to bat 12-14 overs and help the team into a dominant position. On the occasion this was done — against Lucknow — the bowling flopped, unable to defend a 200-plus score.

Apart from Dwayne Bravo, no other CSK bowler has looked like picking up wickets consistently, or even bowling parsimoniously. The pressure on opposing batsmen this season is far lesser than in previous years. CSK desperately need more meaningful contributions from Ruturaj Gaikwad, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Dhoni, Bravo and more particularly Ravindra Jadeja. The ace all-rounder, made captain this season, has looked weighed down with the responsibility, taking some toll on his batting and bowling.

On paper, CSK still look the better team, but they will also be under greater pressure. SRH start as underdogs, which can be a huge advantage in such a situation. All the hard running will have to be done by CSK.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

Players To Watch Out For:

CSK: Robin Uthappa, Dwayne Bravo, Ambati Rayudu

SRH: Kane Williamson, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Nicholas Pooran

X Factor: Ravindra Jadeja


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