Only once a team has defended their IPL title. Chennai Super Kings won the 2009 IPL title and defended it successfully in the 2010 edition. Sunrisers Hyderabad, who won the 2016 edition, has the right mix of players to defend their title in 2017. With less than a month to go for the tenth edition to take place, there will be added pressure on Sunrisers to repeat their last year’s performance. The 2017 IPL opens with defending champions Sunrisers taking on runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 5 at their home ground. It will be a cracker of a contest as RCB would have revenge in their minds.
Sunrisers have kept their core team intact. They still have the ever-reliable David Warner as captain and opener, a rejuvenated Yuvraj Singh in the middle-order and strike bowlers in Ashish Nehra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman. They have added two Afghanistan players to their squad — Rashid Khan at a cost of Rs 4 crore and Mohammad Nabi at his base price of Rs 30 lakh.
They will look to unleash Rashid Khan from the first match itself as the Afghanistan’s off-spinner has been impressive in the shorter format. He can provide the killer edge and surprise element that Sunrisers need to defend their title. Last year, it was Mustafizur Rahman. This year, it can be Afghanistan’s very own Rashid Khan.
Also, Sunrisers will expect a performance from Rashid similar to Sunil Narine’s for KKR in the latter’s two title triumphs. Rashid, although just 18 years old, has enough exposure in the shorter format in international cricket to put Sunrisers campaign in 2017 IPL on the right track from the word go.
Mohammad Nabi comes with a wealth of experience as an all-rounder in the shorter format. He has donned the role of finisher for Afghanistan since the team has come into reckoning. However, Nabi’s participation for Sunrisers in 2017 IPL can be cut short by four foreign players rule.
It might be a toss up between Nabi and Rashid as the former with his multiple utilities can be a real asset for the team while the latter can add variety to the bowling attack. And if both the Afghanistan players get the chance to play in the XI, Sunrisers can have right mix of balance in their bowling and batting attack to counter any opposition.
The last year’s edition was a tough challenge for Sunrisers who fought hard in Eliminator, Qualifier 2 to finally beat RCB in the final. This time, Sunrisers will be expecting a smooth ride on the route to title defence. But irrespective of the result, one thing is guaranteed that Sunrisers will entertain fans with their tough cricket as Afghanistan players Rashid and Nabi will look to make quite an impression in their maiden IPL. Their performance will open the door for other Afghanistan players’ participation in this cash-rich event.