Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) announced four changes to their playing XI for Match 9 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 against defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) in Chennai this Saturday (April 17).
The 2016 IPL champions reacted strongly to their losses in the previous two encounters versus Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the same venue.
SRH left out wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, all-rounder Jason Holder, left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and left-arm pacer T Natarajan from their playing XI in the last match.
The team replaced the four players with young left-hand batter Virat Singh, utility cricketer Abhishek Sharma, unorthodox finger-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman and left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) Make Four Changes For Mumbai Indians (MI) Clash
SRH’s call to make four changes did raise eyebrows, with many considering it a decision taken in panic mode after successive defeats. However, the team had a justified reason to go down this path, keeping in mind the make-up of their playing XI and conditions at Chepauk.
In dropping Saha, who had struggled at opening duties versus KKR and RCB, SRH reinstated Jonny Bairstow to his best position in the batting order – which is opening the innings alongside skipper David Warner. The in-form England batter had batted No.4 in the earlier outings but has formed a threatening pair at the top of the order with Warner previously.
In a like-for-like replacement, SRH brought in Khaleel to take the place of Natarajan, who had been expensive in the first two matches and looked out of sorts with his rhythm and control. Khaleel, also, has been often criticised on that front. Nevertheless, the SRH team management backed the left-arm quick to make a comeback in the playing XI. Khaleel has played 18 IPL matches in his career with 27 wickets at an economy rate of 8.92.
Perhaps the most interesting changes of the four were that of Singh, Sharma and Mujeeb for Holder, Saha and Nadeem, who were deemed set for a long run in the playing XI. After Nadeem’s poor outing versus RCB, SRH looked to bolster their spin department by bringing in Mujeeb. But with Mujeeb being an overseas cricketer, the team, already featuring Bairstow, skipper Warner and Rashid Khan, had to look past Holder.
Mujeeb, who previously played for Punjab Kings (PBKS), was picked by SRH at the IPL 2021 auction in February for a sum of INR 1.50 crores. Mujeeb has played 19 IPL matches with 17 wickets and an economy rate of 8.23.
Once their four overseas players were set among specialists, for the all-rounder slot, SRH had to look at an Indian in the playing XI to replace Holder. And to fill the void, came in Abhishek Sharma who was used often as the power-hitter and fifth bowling option by SRH in IPL 2020 last year. Abhishek has a strike-rate of 145.91 with the bat and can chip in with some useful, tight overs in the middle phase of an innings.
While with Holder going out and Abhishek sharing fifth-bowler duties with Vijay Shankar, SRH’s bowling did go weaker than it was a game earlier, the team had to compromise on that front in order to bolster their batting, especially the middle-order.
Virat Singh’s inclusion was thus welcome as the left-hander had been on the fringes of the playing XI for long. Singh, who plays domestically for Jharkhand, has featured in 61 matches in his overall T20 career with 1,802 runs at a strike-rate of 127.53.