Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals, the two teams which were most affected by the recent ball-tampering scandal, lock horns on Monday. While the former will take the field on their home turf with a new overseas captain at the helm, the latter is staging a comeback to the tournament after two years.
Englishman Alex Hales is the replacement for David Warner and will open the innings with Shikhar Dhawan. Yusuf Pathan and Hales spent a lot of time in the nets, so their chances of being in the playing XI are very high.
Sunrisers, who won their maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) title in 2016, are one of the franchises who believe in having utility players in their squads. Ahead of the IPL 2018 auctions, SRH retained two players in David Warner and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. At the auctions, they went on to make the best use of their remaining three Right To Match cards to bring back Shikhar Dhawan, Rashid Khan and Deepak Hooda. While the first two retentions were expected, SRH bought back Hooda for a big price of Rs 3.6 crore as they needed a finisher to end their innings on a big note.
While SRH once again has a decent squad, they had to let go of two key players in Mustafizur Rahman and Moises Henriques. It was earlier expected that Hyderabad might use one of their RTM cards to retain Rahman, who has been impressive with his variation. After letting go of Henriques, SRH made up for the loss by roping in Shakib Al Hasan and Carlos Brathwaite.
SRH's batting department is something they can be proud of. They have two world-class batsmen in Kane Williamson and Dhawan. And with Shakib and Brathwaite in the squad, there is enough firepower in the team. SRH, who were not big money spenders at the auctions, did something unusual as they splurged Rs 11 crore to buy back Manish Pandey - one of the most in-form batsmen from Team India's middle-order. In Shakib and Rashid, Hyderabad also has a decent spin attack, something which most of the teams would be jealous of.
Middle-order is one area were SRH have failed to buy quality players. Considering the chances of Shakib and Brathwaite playing in the same XI are rare, expecting Hooda and Pathan to escalate the tempo of an innings is something which might not work for them. Also in the pace department, the in-form Bhuvneshwar Kumar doesn't have an experienced Indian pacer bowling along with him.
Captain and Coach
Kane Williamson and Tom Moody
Players missing for the 11th edition
Mustafizur Rahman, Moises Henriques
Key signings at IPL 2018 auctions
Manish Pandey (11 cr), Shakib Al Hasan (2 cr), Sandeep Sharma (3 cr)
SRH complete squad
Alex Hales, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Rashid Khan Arman, Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha, Siddarth Kaul, Deepak Hooda, Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Kane Williamson, Carlos Brathwaite, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Shreevats Goswami, Mohammad Nabi, Chris Jordan, Basil Thampi, T Natarajan, Sachin Baby, Bipul Sharma, Syed Mehdi Hasan, Ricky Bhui, Tanmay Agarwal
Probable Playing XI :
Alex Hales (OS), Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson (c)(OS), Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan (OS), Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Yusuf Pathan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan (OS), Siddharth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma/Basil Thampi.