While Sunrisers Hyderabad’s (SRH) endeavours in the mega auction – in forfeiting the chase for both David Warner and Rashid Khan – might well have dictated the general direction of their Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign, Kane Williamson’s highly publicised lack of form and the injuries to Washington Sundar and Thangarasu Natarajan did not help their cause as well. Throw in a few poor managerial calls and in-game decision-making, and SRH seemed doomed to dwell in the depths of the IPL points standings.
The Williamson problem
The sole positive for the SRH opening pair of Abhishek Sharma and Kane Williamson this season was the performance of 21-year-old Sharma. The left-hander produced a standout individual campaign, in which he scored the most runs for an uncapped player in the tournament with 426, at a strike rate of 133.12. But unfortunately, he was saddled with Kane Williamson for the majority of the season.
SRH prioritised Kane Williamson’s retention ahead of wrist-spinner Rashid Khan’s; in a baffling turn of form and fortune, he had a miserable time opening and subsequently anchoring the innings. This season was the first time in Williamson’s IPL career in which he scored slower than a run-a-ball.
Williamson (IPL 2022)
All things being equal, there can be no worst combination for a batting team in T20 cricket than a batter scoring slowly while soaking up deliveries. And Williamson in IPL 2022 neither got going nor did he get out quickly enough to avoid negatively impacting the innings. Therefore, twelve games into the season, Williamson’s Total Batting Impact stood at -111, the worst for any batter in the history of the IPL (CricViz). And to their resulting detriment, SRH were the worst-performing team in the powerplay, scoring the least number of runs with 547. Only RCB scored at a slower rate (106.74) than SRH’s 108.52.
Williamson’s often prolonged stays at the crease this season were not only painful to watch but also delayed the entry of the explosive Rahul Tripathi. Tripathi had an average strike rate of 156.70 when facing a minimum of 8 powerplay deliveries this season compared to Williamsons’ overall powerplay strike rate of 76.38. And while Williamson cost Rs 14 crore and was indeed the team’s skipper, surely he could have been tried down the order much sooner than in the season’s penultimate game.
To put into context just how bizarre it was that it took SRH so long before trying another opener ahead of the Kiwi, Tripathi scored 14% more runs than Williamson in 40% fewer deliveries at a strike-rate jump of +188 in the powerplay. To say SHR missed a trick is simply an understatement.
Williamson in powerplay (IPL 2022)
Tripathi in powerplay (IPL 2022)
Limitations in the middle
SRH’s issues in the batting department trickled further down the order with regard to the mismanagement of Nicholas Pooran and Aiden Markram on a few occasions, where the SRH think tank misjudged the entry points of either or both players.
Against LSG earlier this season, Markram—who has an IPL career strike rate of 129.9 and average of 34.7 against spin—was sent in during the 6th over ahead of Pooran—who retains an IPL career strike rate of 150.99 and average of 37.90, respectively, against the same bowling type. At this point in the innings, LSG still had a potential seven overs of spin from Krunal Pandya and Ravi Bishnoi remaining. The end result? Markram fell victim to Pandya after a 14-ball 12-run stay at the wicket.
And against the Rajasthan Royals, Pooran—who has an IPL career average of 22.20 against pace—walked to the crease in the 4th over to face up to the pace and skill of Prasidh Krishna and Trent Boult, ahead of Markram—who has an IPL career average of 47.66 against pace. Pooran was trapped plumb in front by Boult for a 9-ball duck.
Of course, the numbers for Markram against spin and Pooran against pace aren’t necessarily terrible especially given that Pooran strikes above 150 against pace, but teams must look to conceal their players’ limitations as much as possible while maximising match-ups by being flexible. Neither of which SRH managed in the losses mentioned above.
No Rashid, okay. But no Rashid replacement?
Still, on SRH’s questionable decision-making, here’s a reminder that they opted against retaining Rashid Khan. Letting Khan go was bad enough, but there was no successful ploy by SRH to replace the wrist-spinner. And they were justly rewarded for their absurdity throughout the season.
Performances of the dominant Bowling types (IPL 2022)
The impact wrist-spin has on this season’s tournament is also evident on the points table, with the top-five teams all boasting a prominent performer of this variety: Rashid Khan for the Gujarat Titans; Yuzvendra Chahal for the Rajasthan Royals; Ravi Bishnoi for the Lucknow Super Giants; Wanindu Hasaranga for the Royal Challengers Bangalore; and Kuldeep Yadav for the Delhi Capitals. In addition, all wrist-spinners mentioned fall within the top-ten wicket-takers this season except for Bishnoi.
Leading wrist-spinners and their corresponding team’s position on the IPL points table (IPL 2022)
|Gujarat Titans||No.1||Rashid Khan||18||22.38||6.73|
|Rajasthan Royals||No.2||Yuzvendra Chahal||26||17.76||7.70|
|Lucknow Super Giants||No.4||Ravi Bishnoi||12||34.25||8.22|
|Royal Challengers Bangalore||No.3||Wanindu Hasaranga||24||15.08||7.38|
|Delhi Capitals||No.5||Kuldeep Yadav||21||19.95||8.43|
At the opposite end of the points table, we’ll find SRH sitting just above fellow strugglers, the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians (MI), who failed to make it to the 10-point mark. And all three have at least one particular thing in common: they boast no such prominence in the wrist-spin department.
This is surprising, given that SRH’s Head Coach Tom Moody has always been a fan of the advantage of the ‘each-way’ spin the wrist-spinner provides, stating, “The one thing with leg-spin bowling is that all leg-spinners can spin it both ways: the ability to disguise which one it is that’s going left or right, makes it doubly difficult for any batsman.” Even more surprising as Moody is a big fan of Rashid in particular. “No one reads him,” Moody says. “I am yet to see someone successfully read whether he is bowling the wrong ‘un, the leg-spin or the top-spin.”
Now, had Washington Sundar, who provides the flexibility in the batting department as a floater, been available for the entirety of the season, things might have turned out differently for SRH. But unfortunately, that was out of their control.
This SRH management also gave up on a 22-year-old fast-bowler in Marco Jansen halfway through the campaign. The same management whose choices triggered the misuse of Pooran and Markram. Quite frankly, SRH made their bed—two places off the foot of the points table, to be exact. And they’ll have to lie there until they get a chance to redeem themselves in IPL 2023.
Stats gathered ahead of the Eliminator