For a team which reached the final of the last edition without its flamboyant opener and winning-captain David Warner, former champion Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) should pose a bigger challenge to its opponents in the 12th edition what with Australian returning to the team after serving a ban for a ball-tampering controversy.
A major features of the two-time finalist is the rich variety and depth in all departments of the game. As bowling coach Muttiah Muralitharan said during his recent visit, they have players for all occasions.
The ability of the think-tank, comprising head coach Tom Moody, Muralitharan and mentor V.V.S. Laxman, to put in place combinations which can test the best of the opposition is something which separates Sunrisers from the other strong contenders.
There is depth in batting even as one of it’s most consistent performers, opener Shikhar Dhawan, has moved to Delhi Capitals.
Sunrisers have bought hard-hitting batsmen like Englishman Jonny Bairstow and Martin Guptill of New Zealand. This could mean selection worries as only four foreign players can feature in the playing XI.
Kane Williamson (nursing a shoulder injury), who had an amazing last season as batsman and a leader, ensured that Warner’s absence was not felt!
In bowling too, Sunrisers offer plenty of variety though Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s reputation as ‘death overs’ specialist has been dented to some extent of late. Sunrisers have left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed, experienced Siddharth Kaul, the Afghan duo of leg-spinner Rashid Khan and offie Mohammad Nabi and veteran Shakib Al Hasan to complement Bhuvneshwar.
All-rounders Yusuf Pathan and Vijay Shankar give the team a re-assuring touch if the top-order fails to click. By all means, Sunrisers can be a force to reckon with as they chase a second title.