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Indian Premier League 2021

IPL 2021: Sunrisers Hyderabad are a fundamentally flawed T20 team

From a top-heavy batting order to the lack of a gun pacer, we discuss the problems plaguing Sunrisers Hyderabad in details

Sunrisers Hyderabad became the first team to be knockout out of IPL 2021 [Source: IPL/BCCI]

Sunrisers Hyderabad became the first team to be knockout out of IPL 2021 [Source: IPL/BCCI]


Anjishnu Roy

Updated: 1 Oct 2021 6:20 PM GMT

Sunrisers Hyderabad's nightmare run in IPL 2021 doesn't seem to be surprising given the squad they've got and how they have gone about proceedings this season. Last night, SRH became the first team to be eliminated from IPL 2021 playoff positions after losing yet another game to the Chennai Super Kings. The 2016 IPL champions have managed just two victories all season having played 11 matches and are dead last at the bottom of the table.

If you think about the way the team was constructed and how it approached the auction going into the season, you'd find reasons to believe that Sunrisers Hyderabad were doomed right from the beginning. Let's break it down and look at the fundamental flaws in the side that were difficult to overcome even before the first ball was bowled:

Top-heavy batting unit

Going into IPL 2021, the top three-four batsmen in Sunrisers Hyderabad were David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, and Kane Williamson. Obviously, you're aware that only four overseas cricketers can be fielded at a particular time in a match and therefore, SRH had to cherry-pick and experiment with the top order quite a lot.

The lean patch of David Warner, who was mysteriously and abruptly sacked from captaincy halfway through the season and then even abruptly dropped and the unavailability of Jonny Bairstow has made matters worse. On top of that, the Wriddhiman Saha as an opener experiment that brought about such fantastic results towards the end of IPL 2020 has also failed this time around.

The introduction of Jason Roy recently has provided relief although, the Englishman has found himself surrounded by too many anchoring batters who do not help capitalize during the Powerplay. Manish Pandey's sluggish batting and his horrible strike rate of 114.35 has increased pressure on an already non-existing middle order.

Inexperienced and exposed middle order

The signs of a middle-order collapse had been prevalent for Sunrisers Hyderabad ever since their title-winning 2016 campaign. This year, however, it has become a full-blown catastrophe. With the exception of Jason Holder, who quite often has to sit on the dugout due to the lack of balance in the SRH overseas quota, there isn't a single reliable name helming the middle order for SRH.

Despite trying his best, Jason Holder alone hasn't been able to relieve the pressure off the middle-order for SRH [Source: IPL]

Sure, Abdul Samad can hit the big shots every now and then and Priyam Garg and Abhishek Sharma are also capable of surprising the opposition but they are far from ready products. Franchise cricket demands continuous short-term results and more often than not, the youngsters have buckled under the pressure. Experienced campaigners like Vijay Sharma and Kedar Jadhav are also either past their prime or have done little to inspire confidence.

This only increases the prices of the wickets of Kane Williamson and Manish Pandey which paralyzes them into adopting an extra-cautionary and slow approach.

No reliable gun pacer

Think of any team in the Indian Premier League and more likely than not, they possess a competent fast bowler in their ranks, preferably an overseas bowler who can provide them with an edge in key matchups. Chennai Super Kings have Deepak Chahar and Josh Hazlewood, Delhi Capitals have Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, and Avesh Khan, Royal Challengers Bangalore have Mohammed Siraj, Harshal Patel, and Kyle Jamieson, Kolkata Knight Riders have Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, and Lockie Ferguson, Mumbai Indians have Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah, Punjab Kings have Mohammad Shami and Arshdeep Singh, and Rajasthan Royals have Jofra Archer, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, and Kartik Tyagi.

Meanwhile, Sunrisers Hyderabad have persisted with the likes of Sandeep Sharma and Khaleel Ahmed for far too long and it has done them little to no favours. T Natarajan's emergence last season was a cause for celebration but injuries have kept him out of action in IPL 2021. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who used to carry the seam-bowling unit for SRH in his prime has also been affected by persistent injuries and is no longer the lethal bowler he was.

The lack of returns from the supporting cast has also increased the onus on star-spinner Rashid Khan [Source: IPL]

Pretty much every modern T20 team relies on a speedster to get them the desired wickets in the Powerplay and also to be a specialist in the dreaded Death Overs. SRH's failures in team management become clear in this regard. The lack of dependable pace bowlers has also increased the onus on star-spinner Rashid Khan who finds little help from his supporting cast.

Poor think-tank decisions

At times, many teams get away with a poor squad or with out-of-form players with the help of sharp planning and execution. However, that's far from the case at Sunrisers Hyderabad. The think-tank led by Trevor Bayliss has been powerless to arrest the team's collapse in games. From mindless experiments and unclear roles assigned to the cricketers to strange selections, vague matchups, powerplay strategies and bizarre batting order placements, Sunrisers' season has been a walking disaster.

Behind the scenes unrest

A team is as good as the atmosphere within its dressing room. This season, and especially since the sacking of David Warner as captain, one can sense that not everything is right within the SRH changing rooms. Warner is the biggest legend in the history of the franchise and he has quite often single-handedly carried them to greatness, including the IPL 2016 victory. The way the team dispensed with Warner's captaincy and then eventually dropped him proved to be distasteful for many fans and professionals.

Moreover, over the last few games, Warner hasn't even been spotted on the ground. In fact, he has posted stories of the game from his room in the hotel which suggests that he hasn't been travelling with the team to matches. Why? Well, Bayliss says it's to give chances to several youth players of the in-stadia experience but who can really gauge the truth.

With SRH officially out of the IPL this season, the next major auction will be make or break for them. For far too long, the franchise has ignored key issues that needed to be addresses way earlier. Consolidating the middle order, reducing the top-heaviness of the batting order, securing a reliable fast bowler are just some of the problems they need to go about fixing ahead of IPL 2022.

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