The 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League auction is done and dusted and after all the splurging of money in the six-hour affair, we finally have the line-ups for the each of the eight franchises. Unlike the other franchisees who went for big overseas cricketers, Sunrisers Hyderabad opted for uncapped young Indian batsmen at the auction.
The Orange Army bought India’s U19 captain Priyam Garg for Rs 1.9 Crore and Virat Singh for Rs 1.9 Crore besides opting for spin-bowling all-rounder in Fabian Allen, seam-bowling all-rounder Mitchell Marsh and uncapped Indian players like Abdul Samad, Sandeep Bavanaka, and Sanjay Yadav.
One of the conundrums that the Sunrisers’ team-management will have to face is whether they want to continue with Kane Williamson as captain or hand over the leadership role to David Warner, given the fact that two openers will occupy the overseas slots. If SRH does go down that route, the onus will be on the Indian local batsmen to spearhead the middle-order
Hence, here’s how is their starting playing XI would shape up:
1. David Warner
If there is ever an Indian Premier League ‘Hall of Fame’, there is no doubt that David Warner will be one of the first names on the list. Such has been the dominance of the southpaw, especially since he has turned out for the Orange Army.
Since 2013, there hasn’t been any season where Warner has racked up less than 400 runs. 410, 528, 562, 848, 641 and 692. These are the scores that the Australian has accumulated in the past six seasons. The last season, in particular, was brilliant for the southpaw. After having missed the 2018 edition due to the ball-tampering ban, Warner stormed back in 2019 and racked up 692 runs in 12 games at an average of 69.20.
His partnership with Jonny Bairstow was the cornerstone of SRH’s success last season, and it will be interesting to see whether the team-management opts to go with Warner as captain or continue with Williamson.
2. Jonny Bairstow (WK)
The other half of the most destructive opening pair in IPL cricket currently, Jonny Bairstow will hope to an encore of what he did last season. Over the years, Bairstow has established himself as one of the most explosive openers in the shorter format. Sunrisers can certainly bank on the English batsman to provide them with a good start.
The English swashbuckling opener had a sensational start to his Indian Premier League career last season, where he racked up 448 runs in matches at an average of 55.62 and a strike-rate of 157.2 with the help of two half-centuries and a blistering three-figure score.
3. Kane Williamson (C)
With Warner and Bairstow taking up two overseas slots, SRH would be in a conundrum as to whether Williamson fits into the playing 11. But, given the fact that Warner cannot captain SRH for one more year and given the way Williamson had led both with his bat as well as with his astute captaincy skills, the Kiwi captain will lead the Orange Army in the upcoming edition.
Sunrisers nemesis in the last season was their misfiring middle-order and the onus will be on the calm-and-cool Williamson to spearhead it, in case the openers fail to emulate their 2018 heroics.
4. Manish Pandey
Now, if the Sunrisers indeed go down that route of leaving out Kane Williamson, then their Indian contingent will have to step-up in the middle-order; something they haven’t done in the past. And, at the heart of it will be Manish Pandey’s form.
The right-hander did have a good last season where he played some crucial innings at the backend of the tournament. In 12 matches, Pandey scored 344 runs at an average of 43 and a strike-rate of 130.79. The right-hander has been in scintillating form in the ongoing domestic season.
In the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the Karnataka captain racked up 314 runs in nine games at an average of 78.50 and strike-rate of 164.39 with the help of two half-centuries and a whirlwind hundred. Pandey possibly played the most crucial innings of his campaign in the finals against Tamil Nadu where his counter-attacking 60* (45 balls) paved way for Karnataka to score an eventual match-winning total of 180.
But, it was not only his batting that stood out but also his captaincy and his cool-and-calm demeanour. And, the Sunrisers will hope that he carries his form in the next edition of the IPL and spearhead the middle-order.
5. Priyam Garg
Sunrisers went into for the uncapped young Indian batting talent in the recently concluded auctions, and one of the names that they bought was Priyam Garg- India’s U-19 captain for the next months’ Youth World Cup in South Africa.
Garg has already made a lot of splashes courtesy his penchant for consistent run-scoring. After scoring heaps of runs in the U-14 and U-16 level, Garg made his First-class debut last year where he racked up 814 runs at an average of 67.83 with the help of four fifties, one hundred and a double-ton.
The Uttar Pradesh-born youngster scored a crucial 77-ball 74 to help India C win the titular clash against Indian B recently, and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the pressures of a tournament like the IPL.
6. Vijay Shankar
Vijay Shankar will be one of the seam-bowling all-rounders in the side, and the Tamil Nadu cricketer will have a huge role to play with both his facets of skills.
Shankar had a disappointing season last year for the SRH, where he could only manage 244 runs in 15 matches at an average of 20.33 and a strike-rate of 126.42. With the ball too, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder could manage just 1 wicket at an average of 70.
But, Shankar has been in decent form in the ongoing domestic season. In the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, the all-rounder scored 210 runs in 8 innings at an average of 30 and a strike-rate of 135.48. Besides that, he also claimed 6 wickets at an average of 15.83 and an economy rate of 5.58.
7. Shahbaz Nadeem
The lanky left-arm off-spinner has been one of the most economical bowlers in the history of the IPL. With three overseas slots already gobbled by Warner, Bairstow and Kane Williamson and Rashid Khan taking up the last available slot, the onus will be on Shahbaz Nadeem to lead the spin-bowling unit along with Khan.
Nadeem played just two games in the last season but is expected to get a lot more chances in this upcoming edition. In 64 IPL games, Nadeem has claimed 42 wickets at an average of 37.3 and an economy of 7.48.
8. Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan- T20, IPL, Strike-bowler: A more than able batsman and an out-and-out Match-winner. This is what Rashid Khan is in white-ball cricket; especially the T20s. He can bowl in the powerplay, he can obviously bowl in the middle-overs, but he can also bowl at the death. What’s more, he can even strike a ball at the rate of knots and help your team post an above-par total.
Such is his mastery and confidence over his skills that Rashid Khan is one of the must-have cricketers in your T20 line-up and Sunrisers are lucky to have his services. In the past two seasons, Khan has racked up 21 and 17 wickets at an average of 21.80 and 22.17 respectively, and the leg-spinner will once again be the lynchpin of SRH spin-bowling unit along with Nabi.
9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Sunrisers Hyderabad will be closely monitoring the fitness of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The bowling spearhead of the SRH fast-bowling unit in the past 3-4 years, Bhuvi has been grappling with injuries in the past 12-18 months.
The past two seasons have seen Bhuvi struggling with injuries and enduring a below-average season by his standards. While in 2018, the right-hander claimed just 9 wickets at an average of 39.33, he could only manage 13 wickets in 15 games at an average of 35.46 in the 2019 season.
If Bhuvneshwar struggles with injury or his form continue then the SRH management might rope in Sandeep Sharma or the tall lanky Billy Stanlake by benching one of their all-rounders.
10. Siddarth Kaul
Siddharth Kaul was the flavour of the 2018 season where SRH went all the way to the finals. His knuckleballs were almost impossible to pick by the batsmen. In the 2018 edition, Siddarth Kaul was one of the mainstays of the Sunrisers bowling unit. In 17 games, the right-hander claimed 21 wickets at an average of 26.04.
That average shot up to 40.33 in the succeeding season  with the batsmen unravelling his mystery. This season will be very crucial for Sid Kaul. With the clouds of uncertainty over Bhuvi’s fitness, the right-hander will have to put his hand up and spearhead the bowling unit.
11. Khaleel Ahmed
Khaleel Ahmed- with his left-arm action- will add variety to the SRH fast bowling attack. But, will the southpaw learn from his mistakes that he did as far as his line and lengths are concerned in the recent T20I series against Bangladesh.
Khaleel did have a good last season of the IPL, though. In nine games, the left-hander claimed 19 wickets at an average of 15.10 and a strike-rate of 11.00, and if he can get his economy a bit down the current 8.59, he could be a real asset for the Orange Army.
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