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SRH look to replicate past glory sans Warner

The Indian Premier League 2018 auction was a success for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. They would’ve felt content at the end of that weekend, not just because they could stick to their pre-planned strategy of retaining familiar faces from the past season, but also because they ended up with a side that has all bases covered.

As many as nine players from last season were back in the squad from the 23 picked. Their initial retentions were to the point – David Warner and Bhuvneshwar Kumar – around who the Sunrisers unit revolved primarily. Their acquisitions at the auction, too, revolved around the pivot, Warner. But then they were dealt with a colossal blow two weeks prior to the start of the league.

Warner was banned from the IPL by the BCCI in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal that had the explosive opener suspended for a year by Cricket Australia.

Warner’s role in the franchise was well beyond him just being the face of the franchise. He not just led from the front with the bat, but his dynamism and inventive captaincy, coupled with his brimming enthusiasm on the field, worked wonders for SRH. A side that was easy to mistake for ordinary, under Warner’s leadership, rose in stakes and to prominence. To validate which, they even went on to win their maiden IPL title under him in 2016.

In a forced move, Sunrisers named Kane Williamson to lead the side and roped in English opener Alex Hales as Warner’s replacement.

Williamson, in personality, may be in stark contrast to Warner, but his calm is what the Sunrisers need to deal with the loss of the latter. In terms of the composition though, it skews combinations. Williamson, who realistically, wouldn’t have even made the playing XI on a consistent basis, now finds himself at the core, around which the side will be built.

Dhawan will have to assume the role of the aggressor in Warner’s absence, giving Hales the window of comfort in this new partnership. It is a brilliant opportunity for Hales, who only was with Mumbai Indians briefly in 2015, to get the IPL experience. It also, however, is a pressure situation, given he has Warner’s boots to fill, with their ex-skipper having been the top run-scorer for them last season. If the Dhawan-Hales association is nearly as efficient as the Dhawan-Warner alliance, it would ease Williamson’s role at No. 3 of the sheet anchor, giving others around him the freedom to tee off.

The middle and lower order is more than capable with the likes of Manish Pandey, Wriddhiman Saha and Deepak Hooda. Yusuf Pathan is a handy option to have, if need be, who can chip in with the ball as well. Bhuvneshwar has been one of SRH’s vital cogs and will continue to lead the pace attack, and Sandeep Sharma’s inclusion only strengthens the department.

While SRH are loaded with local pacemen, they didn’t invest much in stocking up on Indian spinners because their tweaking department is brimming world-class talents such as Rashid Khan, Shakib Al Hasan and Mohammad Nabi.

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