IPL 2021: Will the sun shine on Sunrisers Hyderabad this year?
Sunrisers Hyderabad have been extremely consistent over the last five years, but have they got what it takes to go the distance in IPL 2021?
However, it has also been a stage of the tournament where either the chinks in their armour have been exploited the most or the team simply ends up running out of gas.
Having retained pretty much the same team that lost to Delhi Capitals in the second qualifier in UAE last year, Sunrisers Hyderabad has opted for stability in IPL 2021.
That said, they were quiet movers during the IPL 2021 Auction, adding only a few back-up players to their roster.
Here is an in-depth look at SRH's strengths and weaknesses ahead of IPL 2021.
What are Sunrisers Hyderabad's strengths ahead of IPL 2021?
An outrageous opening combination
Few teams in the league, if any, can brag about their opening combination in the manner that Sunrisers Hyderabad can.
The duo of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow have already proven their mettle both in international cricket as well as in the Indian Premier League.
With 5,254 runs, the Australian southpaw is the third-highest run-scorer in IPL history and also has the best average and strike rate for a player in the top five of the all-time scorers' list.
He has also amassed the most half-centuries in the competition's history.
Jonny Bairstow made an instant impact in his debut IPL season in 2019.
He scored a century and finished with an average of over 55 and a strike rate of over 157.
Though he had a rather quiet season in the UAE relative to his usual standards, Bairstow reminded everyone just how good he is in the limited-overs format with his blitzkriegs against India just recently.
A top-order that packs quite the punch
Even if David Warner or Jonny Bairstow fail to get going, SRH has enough solidity assembled in the top order to propel the ticking of runs.
Jason Roy, who came in as a last-minute replacement for Australia's Mitchell Marsh, has been in sharp form recently.
Manish Pandey who has been falling down the pecking order in the Indian team has a point to prove ahead of the T20 World Cup later this year.
Wriddhiman Saha, who lost his slot in the Test team to a reinvigorated Rishabh Pant, will be hoping to impress the national selectors.
Meanwhile, Kane Williamson, who…..never mind. Kane Williamson is Kane Williamson.
A sharp bowling attack
The return of Bhuvneshwar Kumar during the series against England was a blessing for SRH.
With 136 wickets, Bhuvi is the seventh-highest wicket-taker in IPL history. He has also won the Purple Cap twice, in 2016 and 2017.
He'll be aided in the pace department by T Natarajan who burst on to the scene with SRH last season and has been living a dream ever since.
Bowling yorkers as precise as the width of a hair in IPL 2020, Nattu cracked his way into the national team and hasn't had to look back since.
Joining the pace battery is Afghan players Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan who will be expected to spin the opposition batsmen to sleep.
Having played 62 matches, Rashid Khan is the bowler with the best economy rate in IPL's history and he has also picked up 75 wickets.
New recruit Mujeeb got off to a flying start in his IPL career picking up 14 wickets in his very first season. Though he failed to cement a regular place in the Punjab Kings set up over the next two seasons, there's no doubt Mujeeb has the quality to succeed, especially on Indian tracks.
What is Sunrisers Hyderabad's weakness ahead of IPL 2021?
The absence of a designated finisher in the batting lineup could prove to be SRH's biggest headache this season.
For all the weapons SRH possess in their top order arsenal, their middle order is pretty weak and that proved to be a constant thorn for the last year as well.
The likes of Priyam Garg, Abhishek Sharma, and Abdul Samad are not short on talent but simply lack experience.
Including Kane Williamson in the squad does lend the middle-order further credibility and solidity to the middle order but SRH could also end up experimenting with Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav, neither of whom inspire a lot of confidence with recent performances.
What is Sunrisers Hyderabad's opportunity ahead of IPL 2021?
The team management decided to experiment last season by promoting Wriddhiman Saha up the order.
Opening the batting with Warner in four matches, the veteran wicket-keeper batsman displayed some scintillating stroke-playing and collected 214 runs, which included two half-centuries.
He also had a wonderful average of 71.33 and a strike rate of close to 140. Persisting with the same could reap bigger rewards for SRH in IPL 2021.
Kedar Jadhav who ended up becoming the butt of all jokes because of his lethargic intent in IPL 2020 would like to reverse his reputation.
His experience makes him a pretty decent candidate to helm the dwindling middle-order for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2021.
The threats that could haunt Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2021
The lack of balance in overseas stars could end up posting a real challenge for SRH this season.
In David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson and Jason Roy, Sunrisers are loaded at the top of the batting order but do not have the same level of overseas quality and depth in other departments.
With David Warner and Rashid Khan being the overseas regulars for the side, the think-tank needs to bring its 'A-game' in every match in order to determine which players fill the other two slots.
Will they persist with another couple of batsmen from Bairstow, Williamson and Roy or look for more balance with Jason Holder or lend Rashid Khan a helping hand by pairing him up with Mujeeb Ur Rehman?
These are questions that can give the franchise plenty of sleepless nights.