Last but certainly not least in our IPL 2023 previews comes SRH. Its been a difficult couple of seasons on and off the pitch for the Sunrisers. Will 2023 be the start of a new era of success?
SRH Review of IPL 2022
A 5 match winning streak between games 3 to 8 of IPL 2022 saw SRH sitting pretty at the half-way mark but that was followed by just a solitary win in their final 6 games that saw Sunrisers ultimately finish 8th.
SRH adopted a fairly conservative approach at the top of the innings which as noted in other previews was successful for some side last year, at least those that ultimately made it through to the final 3. However, as the stats below show, while SRH certainly maintained wickets at the top of the order in IPL 2022, they failed to take advantage of scoring opportunities in the powerplay.
What’s more, unlike the sides that ultimately did make the playoffs, they lacked the middle to lower order hitting power to really take advantage of those solid platforms. Only PBKS, whose completely opposite tactic during the powerplay usually left them short of wickets at the death, scored fewer runs in those final 5 overs than SRH.
As far as individual performances go, Abishek Sharma had a break out season passing the 400 run mark for the first time. The left-hander will, however, be disappointed to have scored just 2 half centuries and it further underlines the issue of laying a solid foundation at the top of the innings but then failing to go on and make a real match winning contribution.
Elsewhere, Rahul Tripathi, a player who has been around the IPL for so long but always struggled to command a regular spot in his favoured position, was one of the players of the tournament. His ultra aggressive approach at number 3 saw him return the 2nd highest strike rate of IPL 2022 amongst batsmen who faced over 200 deliveries.
There were of course a few failures along the way too, not least of all captain Kane Williamson, who contributed just 216 runs at a strike rate of less than a run a ball and ultimately paid the price for his personal and the team’s failings by being released. For a franchise that has built success around stability, it is noticeable that since 2018, SRH haven’t maintained the same captain for 2 straight seasons while in the same period undergoing a variety of off-field changes to the coaching and management structure that seems to leave the side in a permanent state of flux.
With ball in hand, SRH’s major weakness was the lack of a frontline spinner. Suchith and Washington Sundar provide decent finger spinning options but in total, SRH bowled just 4 overs of wrist spin in the whole tournament! Unless you’re watching T20 for the first time, you’ll know the importance of wrist spinners in this format of cricket, a fact underlined when you look at the current ICC rankings which show 4 of the top 5 bowlers in T20 cricket are wrist spinners!
SRH’s pace options were fairly decent with the experienced Kumar and Natarajan book ending the innings and exciting young Umran Malik a genuine wicket taking option with his raw pace. However, SRH generally struggled to find credible 4th and 5th choice bowling options. Marco Jansen performed at times and was expensive at others while the likes of Tyagi, Abbott, Farooqi and Shepherd were all given a chance but failed to impress.
SRH IPL 2023 Auction
SRH were the busiest team during the IPL 2023 auction but it would be fair to say that they had a plan of action and stuck to it. In total they bid on 13 players and secured 12 of them, with Ben Stokes the only man to slip through their grasp.
Harry Brook has been the form player in Test match cricket over the past 6 months posting some truly Bradmanesque numbers in the early part of his England career. He has prior form in the T20 game too both in T20 blast were he really announced himself as one of the next generation stars in 2020 with an average of over 50 and S/R of 160+ and then in the PSL last season with a maiden hundred in this form of the game.
SRH also brought in English talent to solve their wrist spinning shortage and have arguably got one of the deals of the auction by securing the services of Adil Rashid for just over $200k. Immensely experienced and an integral part of England’s 50 and 20 over World Cup winning teams, the only question is, why hasn’t he played a more regular part in the IPL prior to this?
Heinrich Klassen and Akeal Hossein represent the other overseas signings that SRH made. Both are very decent T20 players although SRH may struggle to find a spot for them in their side.
As for Indian talent, Mayank Agarwal joins from PBKS. There was some thought that he would also be given the captaincy but that job has once again gone to an overseas player in Aiden Markram. Markram’s job prospects benefited from leading the franchise’s South African outfit (Sunrisers Eastern Cape) to victory in the inaugural SA20.
SRH rewarded Vivrant Sharma and former U-19 talent Mayank Dagar for their domestic form with fairly lucrative contracts for players who will be appearing in their first IPL. Others signings like Mayank Markande and Anmolpreet Singh do have previous IPL experience, Markande was Mumbai’s frontline spinner for 2018 season, but both will be back-up options once again in IPL 2023.
SRH Predicted XI IPL 2023
Abhishek Sharma and Mayank Agarwal look likely to be SRH’s first choice opening combination. Both are known for their stroke play rather than their power hitting which perhaps suggests that SRH will once again look for a more conservative approach in the powerplay.
Mayank Agarwal’s record vs Spin bowling in the powerplay
Where Agarwal has been more aggressive early in his innings, it has tended to be against the spinners with a career strike rate against slow bowling in the powerplay of just under 150. Conversely, Abhishek Sharma has shown a slight preference for pace on the ball during the same phase of the game so all in all, the 2 could compliment each other nicely at the top of the innings.
Rahul Tripathi’s form in IPL 2022 was enough for him to break into the Indian T20 squad where he’s won 5 caps in recent months. His role for the national team is very much where he found success last season for SRH, in coming in early and not allowing the momentum of the innings to fade.
His 2 most successful innings to date for India were his 35 from 16 balls against Sri Lanka and his 44 from 22 against New Zealand last month. On both occasions he came to the crease after the fall of a very early wicket and on both occasions his natural tempo complimented that of the opening batsman he joined and allowed them to take a little longer in building their innings. SRH’s openers will hope to benefit from exactly the same thing.
New captain Aiden Markram is likely to bat at number 4 and comes into the tournament on a high after personal and team success in the SA20. He’s since taken that form into the Test arena, delivering a first century in over 2 years against the West Indies earlier this month.
Markram played several ‘captain’s knocks’ for Sunrisers Eastern Cape
Given the monumental failures of David Warner and Kane Williamson over the past couple of seasons, Markram comes into the role with some serious pressure on his shoulders. That pressure is only heightened by the fact that others in the squad, most notably Mayank Agarwal, might have hoped to have gotten the role too. Rumours of a split dressing room have plagued the franchise of late so we wait to see whether Markram can unite the players under his leadership.
Harry Brook is likely to bat at 5. Ideally, you’d like to see him coming in slightly higher but he certainly has the power game to be an excellent acquisition in a role that SRH have historically had problems filling.
Glenn Phillips while not a new signing by SRH will feel like one given that he didn’t play at all for the Orange Army last season but has since gone on to dominate the T20 circuit with some excellent lower order hitting.
Glenn Phillips death overs batting stats since May 2023
Of the players mentioned so far, the obvious weaknesses are the lack of left-handed options beyond Abhishek Sharma and the question as to who will keep wicket. Glenn Phillips can do the job although he’s played more cricket without the gloves on. Alternatively, Sunrisers could turn to Heinrich Klassen to fill the role although his inclusion would come at the expense of either Brook or Phillips in the team.
As far as the left-hander shortage is concerned, SRH may be tempted to use Washington Sundar in much the same way that RCB use Shabhaz Ahmed in a floating role to avoid their otherwise right-hand dominant batting line-up getting pinned back by unfavourable match-ups against slow left-arm spin in particular.
The all-rounder has been in good form for India where he scored a maiden T20i half century against New Zealand in January, a match in which he also picked up 2 for 22 with the ball.
In fact, SRH’s spin options now look significantly stronger with the introduction of Adil Rashid, the ability of Washington Sundar to bowl in the powerplay if needed and the part-time options of Aiden Markram and Abhishek Sharma. In fact, Markram’s bowling has been steadily improving over recent years to the extend that he took 11 wickets in the recent SA20 tournament while Abhishek Sharma who would offer a slow left-arm option, was similarly effective for Punjab in the most recent Syed Musthaq trophy.
The experienced pairing of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Natarajan now ply their trade exclusively as T20 specialists. There is an advantage in that regard that they won’t need to adapt their game to meet the demands of this format but for Indian cricketers, the limitations placed on them plying their trade on the global circuit does mean that both come into IPL 2023 without having played any professional cricket since the autumn. In a side that has a few less experienced players and has otherwise undergone plenty of changes in the off-season, it can’t be underestimated how important it will be for these 2 stalwarts to hit the ground running.
Again, as a nice compliment to the likes of Bhuvi and Natarajan, SRH possess arguably the most exciting fast bowling prospect in India if not the world at the moment in Umran Malik. Already bowling well in excess of 150kmph, there is talk that Malik has already been clocked in the nets at over 160kmph and that he’s waiting for the big stage to break Shoaib Akthar’s 20-year-old record of 161kmph.
Umran Malik’s record since the start of IPL 2022. He’s been taking a wicket on average every 13th delivery he bowls
Expensive at times, his real bonus to the SRH side is his wicket taking ability which in T20 matches since the start of the last IPL has been quite phenomenal. The prospect of him and Adil Rashid bowling in tandem through that middle over period means that SRH should always been on the hunt for wickets in IPL 2023.
SRH IPL 2023 Predictions
Having said many laudatory things about the players that SRH have available to them and the overall balance of their squad which looks strong, I’m now going to predict them to fail in IPL 2023.
It’s a difficult one to call because on paper, I really like their team! However, they’ve been so poor over the past couple of years and made so many changes to their squad in the off-season that there are still plenty of question marks over how this group of players will actually perform on the pitch.
Perhaps the biggest concerns remain over the captaincy, leadership group in general and the coaching set-up. In 2021, SRH brought in a director of cricket (Tom Moody) to sit above Head Coach Trevor Bayliss and it felt like a case of too many cooks when it came to decision making. Last year, they scrapped that set-up and just brought back Moody as Head Coach and now they’ve appointed the relatively untried Brian Lara in that position for 2023.
I’m happy to be proved wrong but it doesn’t feel like Sunrisers have a distinct vision for the kind of cricket that they want to play and in a tournament as competitive as the IPL, sides really aren’t given much time to find one!
Predicted Finish: 8th