Very little has gone according to plan for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), where a combination of a poorly thought-out recruitment policy, the unexpected loss of form by several key players and an inability to beat their rivals at home all combined to see the franchise eliminated before the knockout phase of the competition.
In many ways, Hyderabad’s fate was partially sealed before a ball had even been bowled in anger in IPL 7 when the Sunrisers decided to recruit big-hitting Australia openers Aaron Finch and David Warner to be two of their quota of overseas players.
However, in hindsight, perhaps the franchise would have been better served splashing some of its cash on an established middle-order batsman instead of Finch, as that was the role the in-form Warner ended up being tasked with following a lack of runs from the key engine room of the team.
Meanwhile, as if to further compound matters at the top of the order, skipper Shikhar Dhawan was also finding runs so hard to come by that in the end, it was decided West Indies all-rounder Darren Sammy would take charge of the side in order to help the mustachioed opener rediscover his form.
And it was not just the batting department that misfired, though, but the bowling too, which was surprising, really, given the weapons Sunrisers had at their disposal, including the likes of Dale Steyn, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra and Ishant Sharma.
But both the South Africa paceman and the India leg-spinner had an IPL campaign they’d care to forget, something no one in fairness could accurately have predicted prior to the tournament, although in the former’s case perhaps it is not that much of a shock really when you consider Steyn’s recent workload.
The world’s No. 1-ranked Test bowler, who features in all three forms of the game for his country, played in every single one of his side’s league fixtures coming hot on the heels of a draining International Cricket Council World Twenty20 (T20) in Bangladesh in March.
All of which probably goes some way towards explaining just why Steyn was so ineffective and toothless throughout the competition, especially when the Proteas star switched to bowl on Indian pitches when he generally struggled to generate much pace or swing with the new ball.
In fact, it says all you really need to know about Steyn’s tournament that the fast bowler was taken for 20 or more runs in a single over on four separate occasions by AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni, George Bailey and Yusuf Pathan (see video).
However, it was not just Steyn who underperformed badly with the ball, but Mishra too, which was something of a major surprise given the leggie’s eye-catching displays for his country in the recent World T20 and in the IPL in general (where the tweaker has recorded three previous hat-tricks, do not forget).
Mishra’s economy rate shot up from a parsimonious 6.35 last year to 9.06 runs per over this time around, while the spinner also only managed to capture seven wickets in his 10 outings, six of which ended with the 31-year-old going wicketless.
Meanwhile, when you also throw in compatriot Ishant’s general ineffectiveness with the ball too, then it was only really Bhuvneshwar of the trio of experienced India international bowlers at the Sunrisers’ disposal who performed anywhere near his capability in the tournament, which, given their supposedly superior knowledge of subcontinental conditions, was a big factor in the franchise’s premature exit.
Consequently, when Hyderabad needed to put together a strong finish to their campaign after losing four times already by the halfway point, including three straight reverses on home soil, the Sunrisers just did not have enough players in form to bring about such a recovery.
And if Twenty20 cricket is in essence all about scoring mountains of runs and boundaries, then in the end, one damning statistic perhaps best sums up just why Hyderabad underachieved so badly in IPL 7: No other side hit fewer boundaries (239) or less runs in total (1,943) than the Sunrisers managed in the entire competition.