Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson congratulates Nicholas Pooran (left) and Aidan Markram after the win over the Punjab Kings in the Tata Indian Premier League 2022 game at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai on April 17, 2022. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

No Warner. No Bairstow. No Rashid Khan either. Not even Holder and Nabi. But the Sunrisers Hyderabad have Kane Williamson. And he’s rallying them around, without superstars.

The Punjab Kings are the latest victims. That’s four wins in six games, and Hyderabad are fourth on the leaderboard. That is an unlikely position, considering that they started IPL 15 with two losses in a row. The early losses weren’t a surprise because I thought they played the auction poorly. They lost the big names, and their overseas recruits weren’t great either. South Africans Marco Jansen and Aidan Markram are perhaps their best investment, and Nicholas Pooran’s form last year was at best forgettable.

How did Hyderabad turn around their fortunes? Much of the credit to should go the captain, the amiable Williamson, who led from the front. Hyderabad may not have bought big names, but their domestic picks were solid. Rahul Tripathi has extended his form from the days at the Kolkata Knight Riders, but Washington Sundar is yet to show the form he displayed at the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The rise and rise of Umran Malik

Hyderabad have always punched above their weight, and this year is no exception. Abhishek Sharma, who had shown only glimpses of his talent, has blossomed in the opener role this season. His aggression has allowed Williamson to take time to settle down. Markram provides the steel in the middle order, while Pooran has played some responsible knocks in the SRH’s wins.

At first glance, the Hyderabad bowling is rather insipid, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar leads the pack, and he often breaks down. Also, he’s not been the same force. But he’s doing a decent job this year, and Jansen brings fire and bounce. Umran Malik, the 150kph pace sensation who debuted last year, has benefited from Dale Steyn’s tutelage if the three-wicket maiden (fourth was a runout) in Over 20 against the Punjab Kings on Sunday is any indication.

Umran Malik
Umran Malik of the Sunrisers Hyderabad celebrates after dismissing Rahul Chahar of the Punjab Kings in the Tata Indian Premier League 2022 game at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai on April 17, 2022.  Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

T. Natarajan is back to full fitness, and he’s been firing his yorkers with precision in the slog and picking wickets early on as well. Spin is the worry since Sundar hasn’t been at his best, forcing Williamson to turn to left-armer Jagadeesha Suchith.

When marquee teams like the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings are floundering, the success of the Sunrisers makes for a heartwarming story. They may not have heavyweights in the squad, but all of them together are doing the heavy lifting. That’s resulted in four wins in a row. More importantly, this success was not fashioned by a single player. Every match, one or two players play pivotal roles to steer Hyderabad to victory.

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So do they have a realistic chance of winning the title? No, I don’t think so. Because they haven’t been dominant. Hyderabad are doing just enough to win each game. But isn’t that enough? Yes, that’s enough to land a place in the last four, but not beyond.

The knockout games require a different mindset. A ruthlessness that’s lacking in Hyderabad. I hope I’m proved wrong because it would be a fairytale win if they pull it off. A win for the lightweights. Who doesn’t want a win for the underdogs? But I can’t see that happening.

Right now, each win is a triumph over the odds. Let’s celebrate it.