IPL 2022: SRH's rise has added sunshine to the tournament

Kane Williamson leads a well-settled side that threatens to upset the best

By Ayaz Memon

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Sunrisers Hyderabad's Nicholas Pooran (left) and Aiden Markram. — BCCI
Sunrisers Hyderabad's Nicholas Pooran (left) and Aiden Markram. — BCCI

Published: Thu 14 Apr 2022, 11:40 PM

Last updated: Thu 14 Apr 2022, 11:44 PM

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s unexpected two-win burst last week has imbued IPL15 with drama and excitement. Till then, the narrative had been all essentially about the failure of Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings to get going. While those marquee teams are still obviously in the spotlight, SRH have forced themselves into the headlines too.

So poor had the 2016 champions been in the first fortnight of the tournament that most critics thought they would languish near the bottom of the points table right through the league stage. Then came the breakthrough win over defending champions Chennai Super Kings which showed SRH were not as bad as imagined. However, it was the win over Gujarat Titans, a couple of days later, that made everyone sit up and take notice.

Titans were the only undefeated side in the tournament till then, brimming with high quality talent and sizzling performances. For Hyderabad to beat them compelled a hasty revision about their prospects going ahead in the tournament. Friday’s match against Kolkata Knight Riders, among the frontrunners on the points table, should give some indication where SRH could be headed.

Against CSK and GT, the Hyderabad team thrived on their batting. This was somewhat surprising because, in the first two matches, it was the batting that had flopped badly. The bowling hadn’t looked sharp either and, all told, SRH looked a sub-par side.

It takes one good performance to turn things around in sport though, and this came through young opener Abhishek Sharma, who put CSK bowlers to the sword with uninhibited strokeplay. He was joined in this by Rahul Tripathi, a batsman of the same ilk, and these two freed their team from the shackles of mediocrity and self-doubt.

Against the much stronger Gujarat Titans bowling, the SRH batting went one better. Skipper Kane Williamson and Sharma provided a solid start which Tripathi and, more importantly, Nicholas Pooran (in picture) capitalised on. The West Indies wicketkeeper-batsman, who was paid a fortune in the mega auction, had looked totally out of sorts in the first two games. With him and Aiden Markram also among the runs, the SRH batting now looks as strong as any other.

They will need these batsmen to maintain the good form against KKR, who have a well-rounded attack. Umesh Yadav has been dangerous with the new ball, and Pat Cummins is unarguably the best all-format pace bowler in the world. But it is spinners Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy who could pose the bigger threat since pitches have started helping slow bowlers appreciably. These two generally operate in the middle overs, also give away few runs, which puts greater onus on the SRH batting.

Currently placed second on the points table, KKR appear to have the more balanced team, but can’t take SRH’s surge in the past week, lightly. Their own batting has not been in the best form. They were bailed out by a blazing knock by Andre Russell in one match and in another match by Pat Cummins. More runs are needed from Nitish Rana and Shreyas Iyer to give the bowling enough to defend.

This won’t be easy against an attack that has found its groove too. Young pace tyro Umran Malik, who has consistently clocked 150-kmph-plus, has been the attention grabber, but there is far more to the SRH bowling. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s expertise to swing the ball late either way is always tough to deal with. Young Marcus Jansen, so impressive when India toured South Africa, has hit his straps instantly. Off-spinner Washington Sundar bowled with skill and guile to make a winning impact in the last two matches. Williamson leads a well-settled side that threatens to upset the best.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

Players To Watch Out For:

SRH: Abhishek Sharma, Kane Williamson, Umran Malik

KKR: Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Shreyas Iyer

Key Contests: Umran v shreyas Iyer, Sunil Narine v Nicholas Pooran

X Factor: Washington Sundar

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