It’s been four years since the Sunrisers Hyderabad were forcefully involved at the business end of an IPL season.

And so Kane Williamson, Trevor Bayliss and the rest of the franchise’s key figures will have been in no doubt that a fast start to the 2022 campaign was necessary.

But those plans were in disarray as soon as Match 5 of IPL 15, when the Sunrisers were dismantled by a progressive Rajasthan Royals outfit – the 61-run margin of victory as wide as it looks on the page.

A follow-up loss to the Lucknow Super Giants, despite a somewhat improved performance, hardly improved morale in the camp, but this Hyderabad franchise have some tough characters in their dressing room and that tenacity has been evident in the mini-revival since.

It was the form of Abhishek Sharma in the eight-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings that would have most pleased Bayliss and co. The 21-year-old cost a whopping 6.5 crore in the auction, but has already begun to justify such a lofty fee for an inexperienced campaigner by blasting 75 of just 50 balls to lay the foundation for his team’s win.

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Williamson had earlier rotated his bowlers well to restrict CSK to 154/7 from their 20 overs, with India international Washington Sundar picking up the wickets of dangerous duo Robin Uthappa and Ambati Rayudu.

It was such a confidence-boosting victory that the Sunrisers looked a whole different animal next time out against the Gujarat Titans, and despite the IPL newcomers rattling up 162/7 from their allocation the result rarely looked in doubt.

And that was, largely, down to the efforts of Hyderabad’s captain fantastic…

Kane is Able

Whether for club or country, Williamson can be relied upon to set the most professional of standards.

He has captained New Zealand to appearances in the final of both versions of the World Cup, and led the Kiwis to the inaugural ICC World Test Championship.

The 31-year-old has been a mainstay for the Sunrisers since signing back in 2015, and has twice appeared in the IPL final – once with success, the other time with disappointment.

A former leading run-scorer in the competition, Williamson is still at the top of his game even after all this time, and his performance in the win over the Titans was a testament to that.

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The captain was far more aggressive from the outset than usual, and he blasted 57 from 46 balls – including four maximums – to get the Sunrisers’ run chase off to the best possible start.

Well supported by Sharma and Nicholas Pooran, Hyderabad breezed to a fairly stiff target with five balls left to spare – making light work of what is, on paper at least, one of the finest bowling attacks in the tournament.

Hitting Their Stride

If the Sunrisers are to return to the heights of 2018, which was the last time they made it to the final of the IPL, they will need to call upon the quality of Williamson and an impressive supporting cast.

The various cricket betting sites update their odds as to who will win IPL 15 after every game, and it won’t come as a surprise that Hyderabad’s renaissance has not gone unnoticed. At one platform, 888sport, they have been shortened in price to 11/1, and while that means they remain something of an outsider to win the tournament, the manner in which they defeated the Titans – who are amongst the favourites to prevail – speaks volumes of their quality.

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If they are to kick on from here, it will be paramount that Sharma continues on his upward trajectory and replaces the runs lost when Manish Pandey decided to switch to the Super Giants, while the absence of Jonny Bairstow and David Warner confirms this is very much Sunrisers 2.0.

But Aiden Markram and Pooran bring plenty of quality as their effective replacements, while the crafty Thangarasu Natarajan will lead a seam bowling attack that should not be underestimated.

A case can be made that this isn’t a vintage Hyderabad team, but with Williamson at the helm and Sharma and Rahul Tripathi leading the way with the willow, it wouldn’t be such a surprise if Sunrisers were able to spring a shock or two during this 2022 season. #KhabarLive #hydnews