‘You get what you pay for’ is a bit of an old adage. But one team that must have been pleasantly surprised and experienced it in the brightest context is Team Sunrisers Hyderabad when they won the IPL championship last year. Especially when you consider the fact that they finished a low 6th in the overall standings in 2015 season and only added one high-impact player for the subsequent season in the form of Yuvraj Singh. But then he is not just another player is he? He is the nation’s best six – hitting superstar, albeit an ageing one.
Cut to 2017, Sunrisers now finds themselves carrying the mantle of the ‘defending champions’. In fact they have always had the most balanced squad going into every IPL season though results prior to 2016 do no justice to this claim. It becomes very clear if you dissect their eleven. They have had the most established of the openers in Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner, the best domestic talent in Deepak Hooda and Vijay Shankar and fine imports in Eoin Morgan(with Punjab this year), Ben Cutting Mustafizur Rahman(pulled out this year). There is no turning a blind eye to Dhawan’s indifferent form at the international level. It’s clear that he is upset at the current snub he received when Abhinav Mukund was named as the reserve opener for test series against Australia. The blame lies fairly and squarely on him. He wasn’t going beyond the 20’s and the 30’s even in the Vijay Hazare tournament this year. But mind you he has just turned the corner with a hundered and a fifty in the recently concluded Deodhar trophy. Yuvraj singh has gotten back to finding his name in every starting eleven of team India’s limited overs format. But the tag of an inconsistent player is something he himself would want to get rid of more than anyone else. And there is the ever so dependable 4 – overs specialist Ashish Nehra or Nehra Ji, as he is being popularly addressed these days! For these players, there is everything to play for with Champions trophy team selection round the corner. Talk about incentive to perform!
Amidst the frachise cricket frenzy, a true-blue Indian cricket fan would keep an eye on the young lad that everyone has been talking about for a while – Deepak Hooda. A perfect candidate whose name crops up regularly when the fans and selectors discuss about the gaping hole in Indian cricket – that of an all-rounder. We have had the likes Hardik Pandya who has done more than a decent job of late. But he is far away from proving his credentials as an all-weather player, especially with the bat.
This year also marks the resurgence of Afghanistan cricket and it couldn’t have been more evidently confirmed than acknowledging it with IPL contracts to two of their national players. Sunrisers would welcome Rashid Khan into their ranks, a promising leg spinner, who had the more accomplished Irish batsmen dancing to his tunes in the recently concluded bilateral series bagging 16 wickets with a career best of 6 for 43. Those who followed the 2016 T20 WC must have observed the quality that the young man possessed then. He had the winner’s streak that’s come to be associated with the legends of the game like Shane Warne and Anil Kumble. Someone who clearly knows what he is doing when he has the ball in his hands. Sunrisers would definitely be hoping he will only enhance his reputation on the world’s 6th biggest franchise sports platform.
With the reassuring presence of Kane Williamson in the middle order, Ben cutting providing the cutting edge all-round exploits as he did in the finals last year , Sunrisers wouldn’t find it difficult to live up to their ‘favorites’ tag.