Why Sunrisers Hyderabad Will Be Team to Beat If They Can Reach IPL 7 Play-Offs

Chris TealeFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2014

Deccan Chargers'  bowler Dale Steyn, second left, celebrates the wicket of Royal Challengers Bangalore's Chris Gayle during their Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket match in Hyderabad, India, Sunday, May 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)
Mahesh Kumar A/Associated Press

With one game left in the regular season of the 2014 Indian Premier League (IPL), Sunrisers Hyderabad sit in fifth place, just outside the play-off places.

To qualify for the IPL post-season, they need to beat the Kolkata Knight Riders in what will be the final game for both franchises and hope that the Rajasthan Royals lose both their remaining two matches.

Even then, net run rate will be the decider, and in that instance Rajasthan remain in the driving seat with Hyderabad well behind.

It will take a minor miracle for the Sunrisers to come through, but if they were able to pull out a victory and see results go their way, they could well be dark horses for the IPL title.

After some inconsistent displays, they seem to be coming into form at just the right time, having found a good combination of players and with several stars at their disposal.

In all, there may well still be plenty to play for in the IPL season for Hyderabad.

DHAKA, BANGLADESH - APRIL 01:  David Warner of Australia hits a six as Mushfiqur Rahim of Bangladesh looks on during the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 match between Bangladesh and Australia at Sher-e-Bangla Mirpur Stadium on April 1, 2014 in Dhaka, B
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

 

Form

Last time out against the Chennai Super Kings, openers David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan showed that they are both in good touch with superb innings in their victory.

Warner's 90 came in just 45 balls as he feasted on some loose bowling, while Dhawan's unbeaten 64 anchored the chase once the Australian had departed.

It has been a very successful IPL this year for Warner, who has scored 524 runs at an average of 52.40 in 13 innings and notched six half-centuries.

He has been a force to be reckoned with despite being shuttled around the batting order and spending much of his time at No. 4 as opposed to his preferred opening role.

Similarly, Dhawan also looks to be in good touch, with his innings against Chennai his second consecutive half-century at the top of the order.

He has been consistent—scoring a total of 348 runs at an average of 29.00—and has been useful in blunting the new ball and getting his side off to a solid start.

If both those players can maintain their good run, Hyderabad will be in a good position to build an imposing total with the bat, especially if players like Naman Ojha and Aaron Finch can shine as they have done in patches this year.

With the ball, Karn Sharma looked particularly impressive against Chennai as he took 2-19 from his four overs of leg-spin.

He has shown a great deal of ability in this year's IPL, and his display against the Super Kings shows that he may just be coming into form at the right time if they were to make the play-offs.

Coupled with the likes of Dale Steyn, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Irfan Pathan, Hyderabad have a bowling attack that could inflict significant damage on any opponent.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 25: Shikhar Dhawan of India bats during the One Day International match between New Zealand and India at Eden Park on January 25, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

 

Right Combination in Their Lineup

The swap of David Warner for Aaron Finch at the top of the order has also helped Hyderabad make far greater strides in recent games and suggest that they could still be a force this year.

Previously, Finch had struggled a little as an opener for the Sunrisers, with his top score of 68 coming against the Mumbai Indians but little else besides.

He may have shown himself to be enormously effective in Twenty20 internationals for Australia, but his tenure at the top of the order for Hyderabad was less than successful.

Meanwhile, David Warner continued to plunder runs at No. 4, and as a reward was promoted to open in place of Finch for the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

That ended in success for Hyderabad by the comfortable margin of seven wickets, with both Warner and partner Dhawan scoring half-centuries, and this pair will likely continue to open.

Further to this, there has been plenty of tweaking going on with the Sunrisers’ lineup, but now they seem to have settled on their best side.

Having seen a largely unsuccessful four games from Australian Moises Henriques, Hyderabad seem to have found the right players for their side, and in Darren Sammy have an all-rounder who is capable of turning a match in a very short space of time.

 

Momentum

Finally, Hyderabad may well find themselves as the team to beat in the play-offs simply due to the momentum they will have accumulated just by reaching that stage.

With players such as Steyn, Warner, Sammy and Finch as well as domestic stars such as Pathan, Kumar and Ojha, they have the squad to compete and will hope they can shake off their recent inconsistencies in the final stages.

Steyn in particular is a bowler who loves to rise to the big occasion, and there will be few bigger than this year than a possible semi-final clash in the IPL.

Were they to reach the play-offs, confidence would be high, especially as Rajasthan's results would have to fall in their favour.

It is a long shot, but with some top international players at their disposal, Hyderabad could well make a late charge for the IPL title.