cricket:image:1430790 [900x506]
cricket:image:1430790 [900x506] (Credit: BCCI)

Underdone New Zealand already on the brink

In the lead-up to IPL 2024, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) had a problem of plenty when it came to their overseas combination. But then Wanindu Hasaranga's injury left them with plenty of problems in the middle overs.

SRH first tried out Mayank Markande before turning to Hasaranga's (almost) like-for-like replacement Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, but neither of them has produced the kind of output SRH might have hoped for. Shahbaz Ahmed, who is primarily playing as a batter at SRH, has also leaked runs with the ball when it has been thrown to him.

Here's a rundown of options available for SRH should they want to rejig their combination against Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the second qualifier in Chennai.

Can Viyaskanth do the job in the middle overs?

Viyaskanth, the 22-year-old legspinner from Jaffna, is arguably the biggest success story of the Lanka Premier League (LPL). He impressed Mahela Jayawardene at MI Emirates in the 2024 ILT20, and Kumar Sangakkara at RR, when he was a net bowler with them last IPL. But he hasn't posed much of a wicket-taking threat in this IPL, though three games is a very small sample size.

Viyaskanth has picked up just one wicket in ten overs so far at an economy rate of 8.60, but the concern for SRH is that their Indian spin options - Markande and Shahbaz - have fared worse, going at more than ten runs an over. As for Washington Sundar, the offspinner, he has featured in just two games so far, the last of which was on April 20, when he took some tap from right-hand batters Prithvi Shaw and Jake Fraser-McGurk.

The average (54.38) and economy rate (11.20) for SRH spinners are the worst among all teams this season. If they end up bowling in dewy conditions at Chepauk on Friday, those numbers might rise further. Even overall, SRH have the worst economy rate (9.98) in the middle overs (7-16) among all ten teams this season.

In the last game SRH had played in Chennai, against CSK, they left out Markande, for an extra batter, but Jaydev Unadkat performed the role of a (quick) spinner, bowling offbreaks and offcutters into the pitch to handcuff CSK's batters. So, perhaps, there is a case for SRH to pick an experienced Unadkat over a rookie like Viyaskanth and free up the overseas slot for an extra batter.

Should Markram or Phillips come in?

That extra overseas batter could be Aiden Markram or Glenn Phillips. Both batters can also bowl offspin, but RR have just one left-hand batter in their middle order - Shimron Hetmyer - and they often try to delay his entry point as much as possible.

It's also hard to imagine SRH tossing the new ball to a part-time offspinner against Yashasvi Jaiswal, especially when they have Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Pat Cummins in their ranks.

Moreover, Phillips hasn't played a single game so far this season and if SRH finally pull him out of the bench, they run the risk of him rocking up cold in a knockout clash. Phillips was last in action in a Test match in March. Markram, meanwhile, has played nine matches this season and could possibly return to No. 4 as their anchor. Bringing Markram back could somewhat reduce SRH's reliance on Nitish Kumar Reddy and Shahbaz, who had moved up the order in Markram's absence.

Jansen or Farooqi - the left-arm (and left-field) options

Like Phillips, Afghanistan left-arm quick Fazalhaq Farooqi is yet to play a game in IPL 2024 while Marco Jansen, the other left-arm seamer, struggled for form and rhythm in the three matches he played. Plus, Chepauk hasn't offered much new-ball swing and if SRH really need to pair up T Natarajan with another left-armer, Jaydev Unadkat, who has a number of slower variations in his repertoire, seems like the frontrunner.