Of punching above weight and under achieving

Sunrisers Hyderabad

If having decorated players was the only prerequisite for success, then South Africa would have had at least a couple of World Cup trophies in their cabinet. The Proteas, perhaps more than any other side, have time and again shown that cricket is indeed a game of glorious uncertainties.

Longer formats might still offer chances for a team to have an edge over their opponents. However, in T20 cricket, it’s safe to throw the favourite tag out of the window. The Indian Premier League has witnessed exciting stories of underdogs emerging champions and star-studded teams returning empty handed. Here is a look at four such teams with contrasting fortunes.  

 

Under achievers

RCB  

The Royal Challengers Bangalore, for the longest of time, have intimidated their rivals with three names: Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Christ Gayle (from 4th edition to 10th edition). But over dependence on them has cost the Challengers dear. When the trio fired in unison, no team was more entertaining than RCB. But often, the team has struggled to find good support to its solid top-order.

It’s surprising and disappointing in equal measure for their fans that RCB haven’t managed to put together an bowling attack for a sustained period of time. The fact that they have failed to defend targets close to or above 200 is a testimony to their bowling woes.

Despite their usual problems, RCB have had three memorable seasons that saw them come inches closer to their maiden title. The 2011 final against Chennai Super Kings was a one-sided affair but on the other two occasions – 2009 and 2016 – they snatched defeats from the jaws of victory. They agonisingly fell short of six runs against Deccan Chargers in 2009. The margin of defeat was eight runs against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2016 title clash.

The manner in which they botched up the run chases is an indication of their indecisiveness. The Challengers have failed to push the right button at the right time.

 

KXIP 

Kings XI Punjab's marquee players like Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and Yuvraj Singh have blown hot and cold across seasons. The Kings haven’t had a fixed leader. In 11 seasons of the league, they have had 11 different skippers. Save George Bailey, under whom they finished runners-up in 2014, they haven’t had captains with great vision.

It’s not just the captains who have changed regularly. KXIP players have worked under different coaches with little effect. The owner-coach relationship has left a lot to be desired. Virender Sehwag resigned as head coach following reports of a rift with co-owner Preity Zinta last year.

The Kings aren't good at maintaining momentum. They have a history making strong starts but fizzling out at the business end of the league. Last year, with the likes of KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, Ravichandran Ashwin, Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh and Aaron Finch in their ranks, they got off to a winning spree before losing ground to bow out in the round-robin stage.

 

Punching above their weight

Rajasthan Royals 

The terrific team spirit they exhibited in their title-winning effort in the inaugural season is still intact in Rajasthan Royals. Many unheralded players, with nothing to lose, have given their all and the results have been encouraging.

The Royals have been blessed with excellent guiding forces like Shane Warne and Rahul Dravid, who have easily slipped into the roles of coaches after their rich contributions as players. 

They have a reputation of picking the right men for the right job. The likes of Shane Watson, Ravindra Jadeja, Steve Smith and Ajinkya Rahane have aced in their specific roles much to the envy of other teams.   

They also have an uncanny knack of spotting the right talent from Indian domestic circuit, something that a team like RCB has failed to do. Right from Yusuf Pathan to Sanju Samson to K Gowtham, the Royals have backed gifted players.

 

Sunrisers Hyderabad

The spotlight is never too much on Sunrisers Hyderabad before the season and they use that to their advantage. In the recent times, they have quietly managed to construct a winning combination even as many teams succumbed to the growing pressure.

Balance is Sunrisers’ biggest strength. Each slot is covered with specialists but not everyone is a big name. While David Warner, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kane Williamson are definite match-winners, Sunrisers haven’t just left everything to the trio. Other ‘small’ yet important players have stood rock solid around the experienced campaigners.

Another striking quality of Sunrisers is their ability to fight back when the chips are down. They are always in the race and with many calm heads in their squad, they hardly panic.

 

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