A lot depends on how SRH’s Indian talent, especially the middle-order, performs

Sunrisers Hyderabad, winner of the 2016 edition, owes its reputation in the IPL to the phenomenal consistency of the top three — the flamboyant David Warner, now back as captain, the explosive Jonny Bairstow and the ever-dependable Kane Williamson.

If these big guns go blazing, half the battle is won — be it chasing or setting targets.

But, the big question remains — will the middle-order raise the bar in the upcoming edition?

Moreover, it is not certain that all members of the top three will feature in all the games because of the restriction on the number of foreign players (no more than four in the playing eleven). This means that a lot depends on the experienced Indian stars such as Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar.

It will be equally interesting to see how the young Indian talent — Virat Singh, Priyam Garg and the hard-hitting Abdul Samad, among others — fare in conditions which are going to be different because of the pandemic.

Surprise elements

Aussie all-rounder Mitchell Marsh and West Indies’ Fabian Allen could well be the surprise elements for SRH this time around.

In bowling, SRH has a range of pace options to choose from: the experienced trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sandeep Sharma and left-armer Khaleel Ahmed bring different skills to the table; Siddharth Kaul, T. Natarajan and Basil Thampi are capable of chipping in for the team.

In the spin department, Afghanistan leggie Rashid Khan continues to be a potent weapon although it will be interesting to see how the brains-trust utilises the services of his compatriot and off-spinning all-rounder Mohammad Nabi.

SRH, which finished fourth in the last edition, will know that an improved performance, especially from the middle-order, will put the side in the mix during the tournament’s business end.

Near-perfect balance

The challenge for new head coach Trevor Bayliss (who replaced Tom Moody), his deputy Brad Haddin, mentor V.V.S. Laxman and bowling coach Muttiah Muralitharan is to extract the best out of a squad that appears to have near-perfect balance in all departments.

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