The IPL 2017 is just a day away and the defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad will kick start the tenth edition by taking on the runners-up from the previous edition, Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium in Hyderabad.
They have one of the strongest squads ahead of the IPL and are one of the favourites going into the tournament as they have all their bases covered. Unlike the other teams, Sunrisers do not have any injury concerns to their players and their coach, Tom Moody, revealed that the entire squad will be available to take part in the tournament.
Let us take a look at their playing XI going into the IPL.
Squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Naman Ojha, Deepak Hooda, Vijay Shankar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Barinder Sran, Bipul Sharma, Ricky Bhui, Yuvraj Singh, Siddarth Kaul, A Mithun. David Warner, Moises Henriques, Ben Cutting, Mustafizur Rahman, Kane Williamson, Tanmay Agarwal, Mohammad Nabi, Eklavya Dwivedi, Rashid Khan, Pravin Tambe, Chris Jordan, Ben Laughlin and Md Siraj.
Extra cover: IPL 2017 Injured XI
It is highly unlikely that the defending champions will tinker their opening combination that won then the IPL last season. Skipper David Warner must be low on confidence, due to his failure against India in the recently concluded Test series but in spite of that, it will be a safe bet to put your money on the Aussie to finish as one of the leading run scorers for the Sunrisers this season.
The SRH team management will hope that Warner fires on all cylinders as he is someone who is very crucial for the team if they want to defend their crown.
This IPL is very crucial for his opening partner, Shikhar Dhawan, who is going into the tournament after piling on the runs in the recently concluded Deodhar trophy. Dhawan was dropped from the Indian team and will have to score a lot of runs to make it to the Indian playing XI for the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.
The duo has opened the batting together on a lot of occasions and has been successful for the Orange army.
Middle order batsmen
Their middle order is one area that has been the team’s weakness in the past. This season, they have enough depth in that area as they bat at least till number 9.
Deepak Hooda is likely to walk in at number 3 and the Baroda batsman will look to catch the eye of the fans and the national selectors. He was in sensational form in the Indian domestic season and will hope to carry on his form to the IPL as well.
He will be followed by India’s stylish batsman Yuvraj Singh in the Sunrisers’ middle order. The dashing southpaw is in a rich vein of form as he stamped his authority on the visiting England team earlier this year. He is a certainty in India’s playing XI in the Champions Trophy and the 2011 World Cup winner will look to get some match practice going into the extravaganza.
Extra cover: Top 5 Yuvraj Singh knocks in the IPL
Wicketkeeper Naman Ojha completes the Sunrisers’ middle order and in all likelihood, he will be used as a floater in the Sunrisers XI. If the team lose a couple of early wickets, Ojha will be pushed to the top of the order to revive the innings.
Ojha is a capable batsman who can bat anywhere in the batting order and is capable of adjusting himself according to the situation.
Aussie all-rounder Moises Henriques was a vital cog in Sunrisers’ wheel last season as he contributed to the team’s success with both the bat and ball. The team management will expect a lot from him this season and Aussie might exceed all the expectations as he was in a sublime form in the Australian domestic circuit.
He scored a lot of runs for Sydney Sixers and New South Wales in the Big Bash League and Sheffield Shield respectively. Henriques’s inclusion means the Man of the Match from last year’s final, Ben Cutting, might not make it to the playing XI unless the team management decides to compromise on one of their spinners.
This IPL season is very crucial for the Indian all-rounder Vijay Shankar, who is expected to be in the Sunrisers playing XI for a majority of the tournament. The Tamil Nadu all-rounder is capable of scoring a lot of runs down the order and can pitch in with a wicket or two whenever needed.
This year’s tournament is set to feature two Afghanistan internationals and one of them is their all-rounder Mohammad Nabi. Nabi is very good in T20Is and despite his heroics in the format, he is not expected to be a part of the Sunrisers XI on a regular basis.
With Mustafizur set to miss the first match of the season due to his international commitments, Nabi might be given the nod ahead of England pacer Chris Jordan.
Spin department is one are that was considered as Sunrisers’ weakness last season. In spite of that, the Orange army went on to win the tournament. Going into this year’s tournament, the team management purchased three quality spinners at the auction.
Only one out of the three spinners will make it to the playing XI as Sunrisers likely to go with a pace-heavy bowling line up. Afghan’s Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mumbai’s veteran spinner Pravin Tambe will fight for the one spinners’ spot.
Among these three, Rashid is expected to be the first choice spinner. Ranked number 5 in the ICC T20I rankings for the bowlers, Rashid has taken 40 wickets in 24 matches in this format at an average of 13 and an economy of just over 6.
In the 2016 ICC World T20, Rashid showed that he can be effective against the world-class batsmen. He will look to dominate the batsmen in the IPL and is one of the players to watch out for.
Fast bowling has been Sunrisers’s strength in the last couple of seasons and yet again, they go into the tournament as the team with the best fast bowling department. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra and Mustafizur Rahman are likely to be the fast bowlers in their playing XI for a majority of the matches.
Bhuvneshwar, who was considered as a bowler who is capable of bowling only with the new ball, has proved his critics wrong and has really come of age in the death overs too. Now, he is someone who is capable of taking wickets and containing the run flow both in the field restriction overs and the slog overs.
Sharing the new ball with him will be veteran Indian pacer Ashish Nehra. The 37-year-old has been on a mission ever since returning to the Indian T20 team in January 2016. He led the Indian attack brilliantly and was picked up by the Sunrisers in the last IPL auction.
Nehra couldn't play the whole 2016 season after suffering a knee injury early in the tournament, This year, he will be looking to make up for his absence in 2016 and do what he does the best, picking wickets.
Mustafizur Rahman was the find of the 2016 IPL and he will look to continue his heroics this season too. There were a lot of concerns over the participation of the Bangladeshi pacer in the 2017 edition but Tom Moody confirmed that he will join the team after their first match.
In his absence, either Mohammad Nabi (likely) or Chris Jordan is likely to take his place for the season opener on April 5.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad’s possible playing XI
Without a doubt, Sunrisers have one of the best teams going into the tournament. If they get their things right, nothing can stop them from successfully defending their IPL title.
With the ICC Champions Trophy set to begin immediately following the IPL, a lot of rotations can be expected. Mustafizur’s fitness is a big concern and the team management will look to rotate him with Jordan and Nabi throughout the tournament.
David Warner (captain)
Naman Ojha (wk)
Mohammad Nabi (only for the first match in the absence of Mustafizur Rahman)