Hyderabad had a rather inconsistent Indian T20 League season in 2019, losing their captain for a lot of matches and never finding the right tempo when required. When they did get it right, though, they appeared good enough to be title winners. Yet, they failed to overcome the final few hurdles due to their over-dependency on a few names. This was ironed out rather interestingly in the auctions with the Hyderabad franchise opting to fill in their squad with young batsmen and uncanny all-rounders. How will they line-up this time around?
Full Squad: 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.
Read | Chennai probable playing XI
Options to choose from
Hyderabad have a strong core group of players, with most of their overseas options set. David Warner, Jonny Bairstow and Rashid Khan are certain starters while the former skipper, Kane Williamson, is one of the few options for the fourth overseas slot. Manish Pandey, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Sandeep Sharma are the other players who are likely to start in the XI.
With a lot of frontline options set, the team's challenge is to fill in the belly of their batting line-up with effective players, something they failed to do last season. Vijay Shankar, Yusuf Pathan and Deepak Hooda were all expected to fill this hole but none managed to do so and Shankar is the only one among the three left in the squad.
Read | Mumbai probable playing XI
Who forms the batting belly?
With David Warner, Jonny Bairstow and Manish Pandey certainties in the top four, Hyderabad will have to choose between Kane Williamson, Mohammad Nabi, Fabien Allen and a handful of local youngsters - the likes of Priyam Garg, Abdul Samad, Virat Singh - to pack their middle-order.
This also brings us to the overseas question. If Kane Williamson plays, he will have to bat in the top 3 which leaves the Hyderabad side very inflexible. As such, we might see him benched for a lot of the season. Mohammad Nabi, who excelled last year, and Fabien Allen might rotate and play while Billy Stanlake and even Mitchell Marsh are options.
The most likely starter as the fourth overseas player is Nabi. This leaves Williamson out and opens a slot at no. 3 for Manish Pandey, a role the dynamic batsman performed quite well during his time with Kolkata. Vijay Shankar could still slot into the middle-order and one of Garg, Virat or Samad will accompany him. It is also likely that the Tamil Nadu all-rounder will sit out if more than one of the young trio shine.
The bowling attack
With Rashid Khan and Nabi to take care of the spin department, Hyderabad will have Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed and Sandeep Sharma as their likely bowling combination. They might also look to plug in an Indian all-rounder in Shankar or Abhishek Sharma. The rest of the line-up sorts itself.
Probable XI: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar, Abdul Samad, Mohammad Nabi, Abhishek Sharma, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Manjunath Kiran