Considering the depth in their squad and the lofty goals that they set for themselves every time the curtain goes up on India’s domestic T20 extravaganza, the Sunrisers Hyderabad had an underwhelming Indian Premier League (IPL) season last year.
Though they made the play-offs, the Hyderabad franchise eventually finished fourth in the points table.
With the stage being set for the 13th edition of the IPL, away from home in the Emirates, this year, the SRH have set their sights on making amends for last year and lifting their second title.
Sending out a clear message that they were going into the new season with fresh ideas and approach, the owners have rung in a change of personnel in the support staff.
Former England coach Trevor Bayliss has been brought in to set the course for a title run. He replaces countryman and former all-rounder Tom Moody, who ended his seven-year coaching term with the Sunrisers in 2019.
They have also brought in Brad Haddin as assistant coach and Lankan spinning great Muttiah Muralidharan as bowling coach. Former Indian batsman VVS Laxman continues to be associated with the franchise as mentor.
Announcing the appointment of Bayliss, who previously helmed Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), as coach, the Hyderabad franchise released a statement saying, “After very careful consideration, the Sunrisers franchise has decided to take a new direction with the head coaching role and will be parting ways with the services of Tom Moody. Bayliss, England’s 2019 World Cup winning coach, has been appointed the head coach of Sunrisers Hyderabad.”
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, who held the reins of the franchise last year, has been replaced by his Aussie mate David Warner.
Though away from the game for long due to the COVID-induced break, the big-hitting Aussie continues to be a marquee player for the franchise and will be expected to lead them to the title this year.
Though they went into the tournament with a strong squad last year, the Sunrisers dropped points at crucial stages to see their campaign end in the play-offs.
In batting, they had the explosive hitting ability of Warner, Martin Guptil, Jonny Bairstow, Yusuf Pathan and Mohammad Nabi, as well as the skill and finishing abilities of Williamson and Manish Pandey.
Their bowling had the pace and variety of Bhubaneswar Kumar, Basil Thampi, Billy Stanlake, Sandeep Sharma and the guile of Shakib, Nabi, Ahghan leg-spin sensation Rashid Khan and Shahbaz Nadeem.
They were among the pre-tournament favourites, but came up short against Delhi Capitals in a pulsating play-off tie. They recorded six wins and eight losses, showing how much they struggled to record a run of wins.
Still smarting from their play-off defeat last year, the Sunrisers are all set to take a fresh guard under a new leader this year. While they have overhauled the coaching set-up, the Sunrisers management has retained most of the marquee players.
In batting, the Sunrisers have sought to invest in youth, bringing in the likes of India Under-19 captain Priyam Garg and promising 22-year-old southpaw Virat Singh, among others.
Their bowling attack has largely the same faces as last year and has been boosted further with the arrival of some all-round talent in Mitchell Marsh and Fabian Allen.
The squad also has a clutch of promising youngsters in 18-year-old right-hander and leg-break bowler Abdul Samad, 19-year-old all-rounder Abhishek Sharma and 24-year-old Sanjay Yadav.
It remains to be seen, however, if the young guns in the Sunrisers squad can combine with the marquees and experienced faces to take the franchise to its first IPL title since 2016. Let’s hope their four-year dry run ends in the deserts of the Emirates.