Seven games into the season Sunrisers Hyderabad have won only two games and are lingering in the lower half of the table in the 9th place. “We have seven games left and need to regroup quickly. Our backs are against the wall,” the head coach Brain Lara stated the obvious after the defeat against the Delhi Capitals.
The franchise was considered by many as the well-balanced side prior to the tournament, but halfway into the season they seem to have a tough time picking up the playing 11 with the right balance. There seems to be a lack of clarity in organising the batting order.
Brain Lara finding it hard as a coach
The former West Indian legend coming in as coach for the first season seems to have a tough time handling the marquee resources.
Lara has tried four opening combinations this season. “The experiment of trying to get Harry Brook up the order produced a 100 and if you would ask what team we would want to have at the beginning of the tournament, if we had a fit Abhishek then it’d be Abhishek and Mayank Agarwal,” said Lara after the loss against the Chennai Super Kings.
However, he also acknowledged that Brook has intent to score runs whenever he got himself in and hence they kept him at the top. They opened with Abhishek Sharma against the Super Kings and pushed Mayank down the order where he had never been successful in the past. When asked, Lara responded with “When you have a player like Mayank, he’s very committed, the heart of the team and willing to do anything and he backs himself”.
No one of course questions Mayank’s attitude, but questions need to be asked of Lara and co. about the choice to demote him down.
The management seems to send Abhishek Sharma ahead of Henrich Klassen who is a brutal striker of the cricket ball citing the reason Abhishek is the only left-hander in the middle order apart from Washington Sundar. This has resulted in Klassen having less time to get himself in and having to pull games out of fire every time he walks into the middle.
Marquee players have not arrived yet
SRH went into the auction in December with the largest amount of money to spend: 42.25 crores. They spent the bulk of their money on the likes of Harry Brook and Mayank Agarwal.
Harry Brook after bursting on the scene on the international stage with his heroics in red-ball cricket for England has failed to impress with the bat in the IPL. Brook scored one hundred against the Kolkata Knight Riders; in the remaining six innings he scored 63 runs at an average of 10.5.
In the game against the Capitals, he struggled on a slower surface, consuming 14 balls for his seven in the chase putting the pressure on the batters to follow. He is one of the most talented young cricketers coming through in the world game but the Sunrisers seem to have brought a player who needs to evolve his game a lot more and learn to adapt to bat in conditions which are not batting-friendly.
Mayank’s form in the season has been a dagger in the heart of the SRH fans and management. Coming in after a decent red-ball domestic season and being one of the top Indian players in the auction, a lot more was expected from him than what he has delivered. In seven innings, he has164 runs at an average of 23.43 and a strike rate of 111.56 which has not helped the side at all in the Powerplay in getting quick starts.
Chasing 193 runs against Mumbai Indians Agarwal’s 41-ball 48 was painful to watch. On a decent batting wicket, he struggled to time the ball; nor did any batsmen stay with him. The same has been the case against the Capitals.
Skipper Aiden Markram and Rahul Tripathi may not have the high price tag as the above-mentioned players, however, are the key part of that batting lineup. Markram too is struggling to handle spin in the middle overs on surfaces which are on the slower side. Tripathi after his match-winning 74 against Punjab Kings earlier in the season seems to have been affected by the constant chopping and changing around him in the batting order.
Underuse of Washington Sundar and Umran Malik
“Washington’s value to the team is both to bowl and bat but we have players who can play at the top positions. With Washington, yes we want him to be a great all-rounder with both bat and ball. I think it’s gonna take time,” said Lara. However, Sundar hasn’t been utilised properly thus far.
Sundar has only bowled 17.4 overs in 7 games. Unlike his previous franchises where he was given the new ball to bowl in the Powerplay SRH has had other ideas. However, the number of overs he bowled shows the lack of clarity in the think tank in what situations to use him even in the middle phase. Against CSK Markram bowled himself in the third over instead of Sundar.
He hasn’t got a consistent run with the bat, as well. Against Mumbai Indians, he came in at number nine in the chase of 193. The likes of Abdul Samad and Marco Jansen were sent ahead of him, instead.
In the 2022 season, Umran Malik picked up 22 wickets from 14 games at an average of 20.18. However, this season he has been criminally underused. He only bowled 16 overs this season so far, picking up five wickets.
Last season, Kane Williamson had a clear plan in the way he used Malik – – with the fields he set and the phases he used him in. Malik bowled the bulk of his overs in the middle phase of the innings and on odd occasions Willamson threw him the ball at the death. He hardly bowled any overs in the Powerplay in the 2022 season.
However, Lara and Markram have used Malik a few times in the Powerplay this season. Against the Knight Riders, this backfired spectacularly as Nitish Rana made full use of his pace and took advantage of fielding restrictions as he smashed 28 runs. It begs the question of why they didn’t stick to what worked well for Malik last season.
First published on: 26-04-2023 at 19:28 IST
News Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/ipl/the-struggles-of-brian-lara-as-a-coach-and-sunrisers-hyderabad-as-a-unit-8577699/lite/