Sunrisers Hyderabad will go into IPL 2017 as favourites with a promising squad    AFP
Sunrisers Hyderabad will enter IPL 2017 as favourites with a promising squad AFP

The highly anticipated Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 auction was conducted in Bengaluru today. Richard Madley, the England-born auctioneer, was again down to business of selling players to the 8 franchises involved in the bidding war. A total of 66 players were bought with an aim to strengthen their respective sides’ chances of going the distance in the mega cricketing carnival, commencing April 5. Defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) are already a balanced outfit. They managed to save INR 12.15 crores despite buying 8 players for the upcoming 10th edition. The franchise owner Kalanithi Maran’s wife (from Sun TV Network) must be elated with the smart shopping done, as the camp will be eagerly waiting for the buyers to respond well. Here is a review of the SRH’s purchase after the IPL 2017 auction:

Top order: The defending champions’ top order boosts of skipper David Warner, Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson. Being versatile as well as aggressive, taking calculated risks as well added responsibilities (barring Dhawan) and eventually being impactful are their forte. The trio will be expected to score the bulk of runs and give a fitting start. Warner, however, did not deter despite added captaincy burden, and was the second highest run-getter (848).

Middle order: This is where SRH come out as a balanced side on paper. A line-up comprising of all-rounders Yuvraj Singh, Ben Cutting and Moises Henriques can add to the workload of any opponent captain in an unpredictable format. To add more depth and power, the franchise has got the likes of Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi (bought at base price of INR 30 lakhs) and Tanmay Agarwal (INR 10 lakhs). Nabi’s inclusion was a pleasing sign. He is a pillar of strength for his ‘associate’ nation. His blitz donning national jersey and in Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) 2016 won him accolades and a place in IPL.

Tanmay, on the other hand, is a left-handed opener, who can turn the tides in the middle order (let us not disregard the fact that he has List A strike rate of 92.65 and T20 strike rate 129.37).

Ricky Bhui, who was a part of the 2016 squad, is also a decent batsman apart from bowling the occasional leg-breaks. Deepak Hooda and wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha will be given the license to play small cameos and go all out at the opposition.

SRH have also bought another wicketkeeper-batsman Eklavya Dwivedi for INR 75 lakhs as back-up glovesman.

Lower order & bowlers: The responsibilities at the lower order will be led by England’s much improved bowler and hard-hitter Chris Jordan. With a best of 4 for 11 in T20s, Jordan is an essential add to SRH’s bowling arsenal. Afghanistan cricket have raised the bar for other associate nations in recent times. With the inclusion of Nabi and 18-year-old Rashid Khan (bought for INR 4 crores) only adds more light to their silent progress in world cricket.

Rashid can pose a potent threat with an economy rate of 6.14 in 21 games for Afghanistan. He completes SRH’s side, who are filled with all-rounders, batsmen and pacers but lacked steam in the spin department. Rashid will be accompanied by retained player Bipul Sharma and newbie Pravin Tambe (bought for INR 10). Tambe’s heroics in IPL and Champions League T20 2013 cannot be forgotten. He is a clever bowler and looks for wickets apart from curbing run-flow in middle overs.

The pace battery was undoubtedly the reason behind SRH’s maiden title in 2016. The core remains the same and has added the likes of domestic circuits’ performer Mohammad Siraj and Australia’s Ben Laughlin. Laughlin has an average of 20.99 and economy rate of 7.61 in the column of the shortest format, on his CV. He will be guided by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Barinder Sran, Ashish Nehra, Mustafizur Rahman, Siddharth Kaul and Abhimanyu Mithun.

Bhuvneshwar, Sran and Rahman were in the top 15 bowlers of the previous edition. This very fact speaks volumes of their pace compartment. On the other hand, Nehra’s experience and variations are a testimony of some of India’s famous wins in T20s since 2016.

Big miss: Though SRH did their homework of bolstering their spin attack (by adding Rashid), they should have not ignored Imran Tahir. Tahir, currently shorter formats’ No. 1 bowler, did not find a single taker despite being in the limelight twice. In no way is Rashid’s selection questionable, but they could have taken Tahir as well.

Predictions: With all the fanfare surrounding the auction over, the teams will head to the field in less than two months. SRH have done their shopping wisely and again managed to strike balance between experienced players and youngsters. They certainly look like a side to stay in the tournament for long, but will be challenged to excel in a format wherein consistency is tough to maintain.

However, with the core of the side remaining untouched, they will again be expected to reach the playoffs. If they can bring their A game in the knockouts (like they did in 2016), they may become the second team (after Chennai Super Kings) to lift back-to-back IPL trophies.

Sunrisers Hyderabad squad:

David Warner (c), Naman Ojha (wk), Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra, Mustafizur Rahman, Bipul Sharma, Vijay Shankar, Deepak Hooda, Barinder Sran, Moises Henriques, Ricky Bhui, Ben Cutting, Mohammad Nabi, Eklavya Dwivedi, Pravin Tambe, Tanmay Agarwal, Rashid Khan, Kane Williamson, Shikhar Dhawan, Abhimanyu Mithun, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Mohammad Siraj, Chris Jordan, Ben Laughlin