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SRH: A Tale of Musical Chairs
May 25, 2023, 11:30:00 PM

SRH: A Tale of Musical Chairs

After an Aussie and a Kiwi, the Sunrisers turned to a young Proteas star for leadership to try and revive their fledgling fortunes. And the team owners were justified in choosing Aiden Markram as their next leader, given he has an ICC title (2014 U-19 World Cup) and more recently, the inaugural SA20 title under his belt.

So where exactly have things gone wrong for the Sunrisers despite showing glimpses of promise under Markram’s leadership and having a solid squad at their disposal thanks to some smart purchases at the player auction?

Harry Gone Wrong?

For starters, their most expensive purchase at the auction has turned out to be a one-knock wonder so far this season. Harry Brook, who went to SRH for Rs 13.25 crore, has set the international stage on fire in red and white-ball cricket and has also bossed T20 tournaments worldwide. A lot was expected from him in the IPL, where he silenced his critics in style with a 55-ball ton, the first of the season and guided the Sunrisers’ victory over the Knight Riders at Eden Gardens.

Since that century, however, he’s been dismissed for scores of 9 and 18 and has 56 runs in five outings barring that ton. And closing Brook, none of the other SRH opening options has gone past the 50-mark, with Mayank Agarwal shuffled from the top to the middle order — coming the closest with his 41-ball 48 against MI. So getting off to solid starts and utilizing the powerplay to its fullest has been an issue for the ‘Orange Army’. 

Only Markram 

Markram did help the team overcome back-to-back defeats, the first of which came under Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s temporary leadership, with victories over Punjab Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders. When their fortunes appeared on the mend, SRH was back at square one following losses away from home against Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. 

Rahul Tripathi has had a commendable impact over the years in the cash-rich league, but even he blew hot and cold with 258 runs in 12 innings. SRH opener Abhishek Sharma was promising at the top of the order, but only 215 runs in 10 innings don’t do a good reading.  

Confusion Galore

SRH have looked like a confused camp this season. Even with a star-studded support staff featuring Brian Lara and Dale Steyn, the Aiden Markaram-led side is yet to figure out the right XI and the musical chairs continued throughout the season. They tried accommodating Harry Brook, who was all at sea in the middle-order, at the top of the order, and the right-hander repaid the faith with a 55-ball 100 but managed just 63 runs in the other eight innings (across the middle and top order). Brook’s promotion meant Abhishek Sharma, one of their most successful batters last year, was briefly pushed down the order before sense prevailed, and he was back as an opener. SRH then paired Abhishek with his Punjab teammate Anmolpreet Singh at the top of the order, but that move, too, hasn’t paid immediate returns.

Costly Buys, Costly Spells

The bowling department has fared slightly better than the batters, who have been guilty of not giving the bowlers enough cushion to comfortably execute their jobs on at least a couple of occasions, including in their last game against CSK on a slightly slippery Chepauk surface. Mayank Markande was the star of their win against the Punjab Kings with a haul of 4/15 in his first appearance this season, and he followed it up with a spell of 2/27 from four in a high-scoring game in Kolkata where both sides crossed 200.

As for the seam department, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been a lot more economical after getting off to expensive starts in the first two games, it is how the likes of Marco Jansen, Umran Malik, and T Natarajan have bled runs that will worry head coach Brian Lara and the rest of the leadership group.

Since 2021, SRH has been trying to bring back its lost mojo. Despite making several changes, SRH’s story has been a sorry tale in the last few seasons of IPL. Even in the ongoing season, SRH lags in the points table. It remains to be seen how SRH will perform in the remaining matches of the season, but the team hopes to bounce back from their recent disappointments and put up a stronger show on the field. While they are currently placed eighth in the points table with only four matches left, they have to play out of their skins to qualify for the playoffs. The clock is ticking, time is running out, and it's all but over for SRH this IPL.