IPL 2023: Are the Sunrisers missing an able leader after David Warner?

While the Sunrisers Hyderabad may recover from their second straight loss, the lack of character in their performance will bother fans

Image credit: Sunrise Hyderabad's Official Twitter handle
Image credit: Sunrise Hyderabad's Official Twitter handle

Gautam Bhattacharyya

In a long tournament like the IPL, morning does not always show the day. While the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s second straight loss in as many matches in IPL 2023 may not quite indicate as to how the tournament pans out for them, it’s the lack of character in their performance which will be jarring the fans of the Orange Army.  

In both matches so far, there seemed to be serious question marks over the batting abilities with them failing to cross the 125-mark against Rajasthan Royals and Lucknow Supergiants, respectively. If the collective failure of the first game could be seen as a case of chase falling apart against a mammoth target of 204, the lack of application after deciding to bat first on a slow black soil wicket at the Ekana Sports City in Lucknow suggested they needed to go back to the drawing board soon.

Only two of the top order batsmen – opener Anmolpreet Singh and the enterprising Rahul Tripathi got off to good starts while Harry Brook, the England batsman and one of the most expensive buys at the last mini auction at an astronomical Rs 13.25 crores, looked out of sorts. It’s the second time in a row that he has fallen to a leg spinner (the canny Yuzvendra Chahal bowled him in the first game while Ravi Bishnoi got him stumped on Friday) and he needs to pick the brains of a certain gentleman named Brian Lara, their chief coach, at the earliest.

Interestingly enough, the team management tried to address the issue of a frail top order – their bane for the past couple of seasons – with the addition of Mayank Agarwal and Brook while they have South African captain Aiden Markram, a perfect anchorman and a good player of spin. In the bowling department, they tried to offset the loss of their long standing matchwinner Rashid Khan by acquiring senior pro Adel Rashid, but the jigsaw is yet to fall into place.

The team has the wherewithal to bounce back from here, but it’s the inconsistency of this new look combination which stands in stark contrast to the bunch under David Warner & Co. The Sunrisers, which entered the fray few years later after the IPL started, made four play-offs on the trot in five years once while winning it under the feisty Australian in 2016. However, it’s been a completely different story since 2021 when they eased out Warner in almost a hatchet job and now have a third captain in four seasons.

The captain’s mantle was handed over to Kane Williamson last season (the Kiwi had, of course, filled in for a season during Warner’s ban) before it eventually came to Markram. The latter had been one of the best bets on paper, having just come fresh from leading Sunrisers Eastern Cape – the franchise’s acquisition in South Africa in the SA T20 – to the inaugural title. He coupled his leadership skills with a creditable individual performance, scoring 366 runs at a strike rate of 127.97 and also picking up 11 wickets at a frugal economy rate of 6.19. In his first full-fledged IPL season in 2022, Markram amassed 381 runs for Hyderabad while striking at close to 140.

The jury is still not out on Markram as it’s only the first week of the season but if the team cannot buck the trend soon enough, then pressure will start telling on the South African. It won’t be long enough before question of a leadership deficit may crop up – as the unforgiving world of franchise cricket (read: IPL) has no patience with ‘failures.’

 Ask Warner!

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