Despite making it to the playoffs in the 2019 season of the Indian T20 League, the general notion was that Hyderabad was on a downward slide and over-dependent on David Warner and Jonny Bairstow. That they made it to the playoffs with Kane Williamson absent for most games was considered a blessing in disguise as the Kiwis skipper isn't often seen as an out and out T20 player.
The biggest challenge for them heading into the 13th season was that their overseas slots were almost pre-decided with Williamson, Rashid Khan, Warner and Bairstow fixed. Even after a decent auction, it was felt that Hyderabad had done little to solve this conundrum.
But ahead of the season, the franchise made a telling decision by moving back Warner as skipper, plausibly freeing them up the slot of Kane Williamson. The Kiwi can be used as a back-up opener or on slower surfaces while Mohammad Nabi or Fabien Allen can step up as the all-rounder to strengthen a weak middle-order to fill the fourth overseas slot.
Last 3 seasons - WIN/LOSS record
2017 - 8 wins, 6 losses
2018 - 10 wins, 7 losses
2019 - 6 wins, 9 losses
In the seven seasons since the franchise was formed, Hyderabad have made it to the playoffs five times, winning the title once in 2016 under Warner's leadership. One of the most consistent teams in the league, Hyderabad have made some street-smart moves ahead of this season.
Kane Williamson, David Warner, Manish Pandey, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Abdul Samad, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Siddharth Kaul, Billy Stanlake, T Natarajan, Abhishek Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Mitchell Marsh, Fabian Allen, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Sanjay Yadav, Jonny Bairstow, Wriddhiman Saha, Shreevats Goswami, Bavanaka Sandeep, Basil Thampi
Top run-scorers (last 3 seasons)
- David Warner - 1333 runs
- Kane Williamson - 1147 runs
- Shikhar Dhawan (no longer at franchise) - 976 runs
- Manish Pandey - 628 runs
Top wicket-takers (last 3 seasons)
- Rashid Khan - 55 wickets
- Bhuvneshwar Kumar - 48 wickets
- Siddharth Kaul - 43 wickets
The opening duo of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow are Hyderabad's biggest strength. The two were responsible for the Hyderabad franchise putting on some scintillating starts in the tournament last season. The two laid the base for some rip-roaring starts, easing the load on the middle-order, which was totally absent last season.
This year at the auction, Hyderabad have built a strong, young middle-order core that includes players like Virat Singh, Priyam Garg and Abdul Samad. With Nabi or Allen also present to accelerate, the middle-order is better looking than last season.
Bowling is once again a strength for them with Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar available alongside Khaleel Ahmed, Siddharth Kaul and Billy Stanlake.
Inexperience in the middle-order and plugging it is Hyderabad's biggest challenge this season. They have a slew of new additions in the middle-order but the Indian contingent are all inexperienced with Manish Pandey, the lone warrior from previous seasons, struggling to adapt after no.3. The overseas slots are lesser and fitting in the middle-order players is far from easy for them.
Hyderabad have some exciting match-winners in their ranks and even if two of them click in sync, they will be a tough side to beat. If anything, it's the bowling that's a bit under scrutiny. Hyderabad should make it to the playoffs and could even be title contenders if they can ace the big games.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Noah Seelam