Two teams are still to get their IPL 2022 campaign underway and they will do exactly that on Tuesday when we see the season head to Pune for the first time as the Sunrisers Hyderabad take on the Rajasthan Royals.
These two teams both flattered to deceive last season but they have both won this illustrious competition in the past and will be looking to revoke former glories over the course of this 2022 season.
There was a sense towards the end of last season that the Sunrisers’ time together was coming to an end and that is exactly what has happened. David Warner was slowly phased out last term and he has left but a bigger hole might come in the fact that they were unable to retain Rashid Khan, of whom a lot of reliance was placed with the ball. It will be interesting to see how the huge turnover of personnel that Hyderabad have undergone effects their game.
The one thing which was needed was more depth to the batting. Quite often last season when the Sunrisers were three down innings just fell away completely so they look like they have addressed that situation. They will hope that doesn’t come to the detriment of their bowling unit but there is a weaker look to that department, although to be fair should certain bowlers have a good season then they could easily overcome that.
You sense this will be an emotional season for the Rajasthan Royals. So many who are there have had dealings with Shane Warne in his time as a consultant with the Royals and his tragic passing recent is going to hover over this franchise. The players will need to put emotion aside when they are on the pitch but you do wonder if it will give them a little extra fight in the pressure moments. If it does the Royals could be tough to stop.
Much like their opponents in this match, Rajasthan did a lot of work to their squad in the auction. They had managed to retain a couple of stars in Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson and then were able to bring in top Indian talent such as Devdutt Paddikal, Ravi Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal. They look a much stronger side with good balance compared to last season and now they need to transfer that to performances on the pitch.
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While Sunrisers Hyderabad have done a lot of work on their batting unit you sense they will still need Kane Williamson to have a big season. He has been out of action recently so they will need him to hit the ground running.
Jos Buttler hasn’t played any meaningful cricket since The Ashes but this is the format which allows him to flourish most as we saw at the T20 World Cup. If he can catch fire at the start of the season it would certainly boost the chances of the Rajasthan Royals.
One thing we have seen in this tournament so far is the depth that teams are going in with in their batting. Both sides on Monday were three down in no time and both still made 150 with a fair bit in hand and it looks like both of these teams are going to be in a similar position in terms of depth. The Sunrisers Hyderabad could have Marco Jansen or Romario Shepherd down at number eight while Rajasthan Royals will have Ravi Ashwin in that position.
You could argue that the Sunrisers lack a bit of firepower at the top of their innings but the explosiveness they have in the middle order is something they haven’t previously had so that is very much a positive. There is power everywhere you look in the Rajasthan top order and although both these sides have good new ball bowlers I still expect the runs and the boundaries to flow. Each ground has more than a dozen matches this season so the pitches are really coming onto the bat to begin with. That is a trend I expect to continue here so I like over 41.5 boundaries.
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