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Same hole story for Sunrisers Hyderabad

Express News Service

KOCHI:  After two straight defeats to start their IPL campaign, Sunrisers Hyderabad face some tough questions on what is their best combination, how much they miss someone like Kane Williamson and the contributions of their younger Indian batsmen.

The task at hand doesn’t get any easier as their next opponents are defending champions Mumbai Indians who stunned Kolkata Knight Riders with a sensational bowling effort in their last match. Against a well-balanced unit like Mumbai, the Orange Army will have to be at their very best. But based on their performances, it appears as if they still haven’t been able to field their best XI and are continuing to rely on star players like David Warner, Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to conjure up some magic.

These are players who have single-handedly won matches for the Hyderabad outfit. On his day, Warner can bring any bowling attack to submission while Rashid can bamboozle the batsmen. Wriddhiman Saha showed last season that he can open the innings with Warner and even overshadow the Australian with his breathtaking stroke-play.

But when these brute forces fail, Sunrisers could always rely on the calm-calculating presence of Williamson. The Kiwi skipper was even benched last season to accommodate Bairstow alongside Warner at the top of the order but the team’s think tank quickly realised that Williamson brought solidity to an otherwise flaky and inconsistent middle-order.

What makes matters complicated is that the Kiwi skipper is nursing an elbow injury and will only be available in a week’s time. “It’s been a bit of a balance between practice and rehab and sort of things. But for the most part, the progression is been really good. So pretty optimistic about being close to full fitness very soon,” Williamson said in a video posted by Sunrisers on social media on Friday.

The automatic replacement for Williamson was Bairstow as the two have been fighting for one spot in the team. The Englishman who slotted into the number four position scored a half-century against Knight Riders but managed only 12 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Meanwhile, the form of Saha has been a concern as well as the veteran wicket-keeper hasn’t been able to replicate the form he showed towards the end of the last edition.

It all clearly points to the fact that Williamson has been the missing link who has been papering over the cracks of a brittle middle order. His absence has also exposed a lack of significant contribution from the Indian players. While Manish Pandey has a blow-hot-blow-cold form going, the promising Abdul Samad is still gaining experience in the IPL and not a finished product.

The likes of Jason Holder and Vijay Shankar can be handy all-rounders but the single biggest piece missing from the puzzle for Sunrisers is the man from New Zealand. “ I have been focussed to get pain free as quickly as possible and we are certainly tracking really nicely and hoping to be fit and ready within the week,” Williamson shared in the video. For the time being, it will be down to the likes of Warner, Rashid and Bhuvneshwar to try earn their first win.

Round three
The slow, low Chepauk surface will again be in focus as Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad face each other. Here’s a look at the match-up 

Today’s Match @ chennAI 7.30 PM, live on SS 1

Teams to frontload batting line-up?
Scoring at the death in Chepauk has clearly been hard for the teams. So teams could now look at promoting hitters up the order and see if they can take advantage of the new balls and field restrictions in the first six overs. Mumbai could well do this to get more in the powerplay.  

Where do Sunrisers go from here? 
Only team to have lost both their games, it’s time to have a relook at their plans, especially their batting line-up. Is it a time to give Jason Roy a go to strengthen that top-order. They desparately need their middle-order to come good.

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