Know more about possible strategies of Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL 2022 Auction

Opinion: Why The Mega IPL 2022 Auction Will Be Most Important For Sunrisers Hyderabad And Kolkata Knight Riders

T20 cricket, as we all know, is about being quick on your toes and being brisk. Not just that, more often than not, players and teams who have the ability to foresee crunch situations in a game more often than not end up in the victorious side. However, when the format also blends with high stakes and business, the same characteristics also need to be displayed by franchisees who run teams in domestic tournaments.

As far as domestic tournaments are concerned, there’s well and truly nothing bigger than the IPL. The reason? The biggest players from all over the globe have been a part of the tournament since its inception in 2008. It is safe to say that all the major tournaments similar to IPL that are happening in other places of the world are a mere replica of the cash-rich Indian league. Anyone who understands the game of cricket knows very well that one can get the best out of an individual only when he gets sufficient backing by the team. However, when business stakes are at high, franchises often tend to struggle in bringing a balance between the two. Well, two franchises who seemed to have struggled the most in IPL 2020 and 2021 edition are Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad

Now going by just the names, one can point out why these two franchises just? SRH managed to enter the play-offs in season 2020 and KKR was a finalist in season 2021. But there’s a lot more than what meets the eye. If one checks the statistics of IPL 2019, 2020, and 2021, SRH have managed to win just 6,7 and 3 of their league stage games whereas KKR have won only 6,7 and 7 of their games.

This means that statistically, the average win % of these two teams in IPL in the last two years is way below 50, a factor that will never lead to positive results. So, what’s the road ahead for these two teams ahead of IPL 2022?

Both SRH and KKR have been the only two teams off-late to pursue a foreign captain. While from the outset, big names like Kane Williamson and Eoin Morgan look great on paper, the reality of IPL is that when form isn’t in favour of a foreign captain, it hurts the team badly as it tends to forcefully occupy the place of the fourth overseas player. While KKR have decided to not go any further with Eoin Morgan, SRH have decided to retain Kane Williamson in their team. The four retained players for KKR for IPL 2022 are Venkatesh Iyer, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, and Varun Chakravarthy. This makes it very clear that SRK’s franchise is in hunt for a new captain in the upcoming auction, preferably Indian whom they will hope will repeat Gautam Gambhir’s heroics for the franchise. On the other hand, for SRH, the retained players are Kane Williamson, Umran Malik, and Abdul Samad. Going by the retention policy of SRH, it is quite clear that they have restored their faith in Mane Williamson to lead the side, and simultaneously, they have invested in the youth energy of Abdul Samad and Umran Malik.

Ideal Strategy for KKR: With Venkatesh Iyer being in the mix, KKR should go all out in the auction to look forward to an explosive Indian opener. Someone like KL Rahul would be a great option not just for an opening batsman but also for a captain. The reason they should primarily focus on building a core group of Indian players is because their foreign unit is pretty set with Sunil Narine and Andre Russell making it in the playing XI almost always. This means, a good fast overseas pace bowler and an overseas middle-order batsman should be the ideal fillers for KKR in 2022. KKR being a side that has been heavily reliant on spinners, they should also consider someone like Yuzvendra Chahal since Kuldeep Yadav is no longer in the mix. As far as the middle order is concerned, with Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan and Dinesh Karthik not being there, KKR have got a lot to think about when it comes to building a core team for the next 10 years.

Ideal Strategy For SRH: Since Kane Williamson continues to be a part of the side, as always, the focus of SRH must be to have a team around the star Kiwi batsman. Ideally, Kane’s role should be to add stability and play till at least the 17th over of every game so that explosive hitting can freely take place from the other hand. While David Warner has not been retained by the franchise due to their own personal tiffs, it is absolutely a blunder committed by SRH by not retaining Rashid Khan. The man has been playing for the franchise for many years and he is always a great weapon when it comes to deceiving the batsman with flight and pace. With Umran Malik being in the side, the pace department looks sorted but ideally, they should go for more fast bowlers with some experience in the upcoming auction. The green wicket of Hyderabad tends to favour fast bowlers and hence a fire-packed pace attack could do some serious work for SRH. However, for this franchise, more than the bowling, it is the batting that remains a concern. With David Warner and Johnny Bairstow both gone, SRH need to think of a solid yet attacking opening pair who should give them good starts. Kane Williamson’s personal form would be very crucial since the pressure of an overseas captain to perform with the bat is a lot more than any Indian skipper. If Kane doesn’t perform, don’t be surprised if SRH decide to part ways with him and give him a similar send-off to what KKR did with Eoin Morgan for performing below par for an entire season. And in case SRH wants to avoid that since Kane Williamson ‘the batman’ is amazing, best would be to relieve him from captaincy stress and make another Indian bloke the skipper. With this option, they only make their ‘Overseas 4’ spot more flexible and that’s always a welcome sign for any team in franchise cricket.

With the 2022 auction around the corner and some big names being there in the pool this time, it will be really interesting to see which franchise goes ahead with which strategy in order to make the season count. While other sides like RCB, MI, CSK, and DC have been absolutely phenomenal in the last three years, teams like PBKS and Rajasthan Royals too have underperformed. However, the reason special discussion is needed about KKR and SRH is because on paper, these teams have been at par with the best-performing teams. However, as far as results are concerned, they have underperformed to be at par with the most inconsistent two teams of IPL like RR and PBKS. Add to that, with two teams coming into the foray, it will be all the more important for SRH and KKR to go for the right choices in this auction to ensure the fillers do the job correctly. Till that happens, as cricket fans, we can only hope that the think tanks of these two franchises do some serious thinking at the backend to ensure things don’t go wrong and haywire in the next season. At the end of the day, “When the going gets tough, the ‘tough’ must get going.”