Can SRH's young Indian trio repay the faith?

Former India fast bowler RP Singh made an interesting observation on Monday (April 4) after Sunrisers Hyderabad blew an opportunity to register their first win of the season. Umran Malik had just been carted around for 39 runs in the three overs he had bowled to add to the 39 he conceded in SRH’s opening game.

“He sure has the pace but he needs to improve his skills,” RP told Cricbuzz Live on Umran. “As the level of cricket goes up, you’ll have to keep adding new variations otherwise survival is difficult. When you bowl speeds of 145, 150, 155, you need to have skills, else it will hurt you as a bowler; the ball will fly off the bat and go for boundaries.”

Umran is still raw. The cricketing world took notice of the young gun only last year. But the fact that he is currently India’s fastest bowler has already seen him fast-tracked in his short career. Umran made his first-class debut directly for India A in South Africa and was one of the three players retained by SRH ahead of the big auction. The franchise let go of all the seamers from the roster and only managed to get back Bhuvneshwar Kumar and T Natarajan via the auction.

The fact that they were willing to spend 4 crore on retaining his services despite the 22-year-old featuring only in a handful number of games indicated that the management was keen on tapping into his talent. But as Singh pointed out, raw pace alone might not be enough to keep Umran in the spotlight for long. Last week when Jos Buttler smashed him for 21 runs in an over, not even once did Umran bowl below 140. There was more of the same on Monday night with KL Rahul and Deepak Hooda using his pace to good effect to keep finding the boundary and lead Lucknow Super Giants’ comeback.

While he is expected to learn the trade with more games under his belt, how long can SRH wait is the question. He is also keeping another talented pacer in the form of Kartik Tyagi out of the side and SRH cannot afford to fit him in the XI at the moment with Bhuvneshwar and Natarajan appearing to have regained their mojo. Umran isn’t SRH’s only concern at the moment though. They have also taken a punt and invested heavily on Abdul Samad and Abhishek Sharma.

Abhishek and Samad for SRH

Samad is another talented individual who made headlines for his ability to hit big lower down the order in IPL 2020. Unlike Umran, the batting allrounder already has 25 games under his belt as well. While he has shown flashes of brilliance, consistency really hasn’t been his forte. He averages just 14 with the bat so far and while the sample size is indeed small for the ongoing season, Samad has only registered scores of 4 and 0 in the two games.

Abhishek’s case is intriguing. He has been with the franchise since 2019 but in three seasons, he had represented them only 19 times before being let go ahead of the mega auction. But quite surprisingly, the franchise went into an intense battle to retain the 21-year-old allrounder’s services.

While it wasn’t clear initially why they opted to go for Abhishek again despite using him sparingly all these years, SRH had a clear and a bigger role for him this time around. With no David Warner and Jonny Bairstow in the roster, they wanted someone with a free license to make use of the powerplay and Abhishek’s success as a pinch-hitting opener for Punjab convinced them to pair the young left-hander alongside Kane Williamson up top.

The result? A 19-ball 9 in the first game followed by an unconvincing 11-ball 13. Clearly, the transition to a higher level hasn’t been easy. The trio in total have cost them 14.5 crore. With two out of these three retained before the auction and the third one acquired for a whopping 6.5 crore, SRH in an ideal world want them in their first-choice playing XI as seen so far and in all likelihood will give them a longer rope. But the franchise has already been under the pump in recent months and that is why it isn’t easy to play the waiting game.

Having already released Warner and Rashid Khan – their two biggest draws – SRH came under scrutiny. Other experienced players in that batting order like Wriddhiman Saha, Vijay Shankar and Manish Pandey have been let go off as well in favour of youth. For a franchise that once held a proud record of making it to the playoffs for five successive seasons, 2021 came as a rude shock with an 8th placed finish and now 2022 has already begun with back-to-back losses.

Even though it is imperative that the overseas recruits like Aiden Markram, Nicholas Pooran and Romario Shepherd come good, SRH’s renaissance will still largely linger around the performances of their younger core. Washington Sundar has already led the way with impressive performances so far but the rest will have to follow suit and they don’t have a lot of time on their side.

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