The eleventh season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is reaching its business end with teams scrambling in the race for the playoffs. One team that stands out of the lot is SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH). This is a team that has surprised everyone with its performances. SRH are on a five-match unbeaten run at the moment and have been consistent throughout this league. Led by Kane Williamson, who himself has set personal milestones, SRH are the team to beat. They have won eight matches out of ten played and deservingly lead the IPL Points Table with a healthy net run rate of +0.448. We break down the reasons why this team has been more than a revelation in this season so far.
Captain fantastic - Kane Williamson
Williamson was appointed SRH captain after their former skipper David Warner was suspended by Cricket Australia for his involvement in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa. There was a lot riding on Williamson's shoulders. He is the only overseas captain in the current edition of the IPL and was pitted against the likes of former India captain MS Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings skipper) and his successor Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore). Defying all the odds, Williamson rose to the occasion and led his team throughout.
With 410 runs in 10 matches at a batting average of 51.25, he has carried his team on his shoulders and has perfected the art of winning. He has also 5 half-centuries to his name and most of them in winning causes.
His calm demeanour has earned him plaudits from former cricketing greats and fans alike and some have even likened him to Dhoni. Williamson is never too expressive on field but he definitely knows how to get the job done. Support from head coach Tom Moody and bowling coach Muttiah Muralitharan has also helped Williamson a great deal.
Bowling at its best
When you have players like Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Shakib-Al Hasan and Sidharth Kaul in your bowling arsenal, half of the captain's job is done. Out of the list, Kaul (13) and Rashid (13) take the third and fourth spot respectively in the highest wicket-taking list this season so far. These bowlers have always come to the fore and helped their teams eke out crucial wins. Bowling remains SRH's forte and their habit of beating teams in thrillers adds credence to this.
Putting this into perspective, SRH have batted first four times this IPL and defended their score all the four times. A paltry 118 against Mumbai Indians (MI), 132 against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), 151 against Rajasthan Royals (RR) and 146 against RCB.
One particular match that showcased SRH bowlers' prowess was against Mumbai Indians on April 24 at the Wankhede Stadium. It was an exhibition of some superb bowling by both the teams but it was SRH that came out with flying colours. SRH had successfully defended their 118 runs and bundled Mumbai for 87 runs to win the match by 31 runs.
Similarly on April 26, SRH defended their 132 runs after dismissing KXIP for 119 in 19.2 overs.
Even on Monday, they successfully defended 146 runs as RCB could reach only 141/6 in their stipulated 20 overs.
Luck favours the brave
Teams sometimes need luck to see off their opponents and that luck has been on SRH's side so far. Take for instance, RCB skipper Kohli was dropped on 33 on Monday last night by Williamson at first slip. SRH's Sidharth Kaul also spilled a sitter when Manan Vohra was batting on 7. However, both Kohli and Vohra were eventually dismissed and it didn't affect the result but SRH need to be careful in the future.
SRH haven't had the perfect season as they have lost two matches, one to KXIP (15-run loss) and the other to CSK (4-run defeat). One chink in SRH's armour is their over reliance on skipper Williamson's batting. While the SRH captain has been nothing short of brilliant this season, other batsmen like Shikhar Dhawan (198 in 9 matches), Yusuf Pathan (186 runs in 10 matches) and Manish Pandey (184 in 10 games) have failed to convert starts into big scores. SRH fans and team management will be hoping that the other batsmen rise to the occasion and give their skipper more support when needed.
There's still a long way to go for SunRisers but for now, it's so far so good.