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Why picking Jason Roy as Mitchell Marsh’s replacement is a missed opportunity for SRH

Roy for Marsh confirmed by SRH
by Rohit Sankar 3 minute read

With another top-order batsman in Jason Roy thrown into an overcrowded cupboard, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have missed a chance to make up for a horror auction, writes Rohit Sankar.

Sunrisers Hyderabad made some questionable decisions at the auction table in February when they purchased Kedar Jadhav, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Jagadeesha Suchith, three players unlikely to be in their first-choice XI.

Among their released player list were Billy Stanlake and Fabian Allen among others. Neither played a single game in IPL 2020, but on paper each fulfils a role SRH have been found sorely wanting in – an express fast bowler and a death overs power hitter.

When Mitchell Marsh withdrew from IPL 2021 citing bubble fatigue, SRH had an opportunity to try and make up for their poor auction table decisions, and bring in a finisher or overseas pacer with a realistic chance of making it into the XI. Instead, they got sucked into the alluring prospect of playing Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy at the top of the order.

David Warner’s groin injury, which might limit his availability for some games, is presumably part of the motivation. But with Kane Williamson already in their setup and a doubtful starter if they have all of Bairstow, Warner, Jason Holder and Rashid Khan are available, there was little to no need to find a back-up top-order batsman. On the contrary, they needed to shore up their batting options at the other end of the innings.

In the last two editions of the IPL, Sunrisers Hyderabad have recorded a scoring rate of 8.74 in the last five overs of an innings, the worst by any team in the league. They have hit 46 sixes and scored a boundary every 5.5 balls in this phase, both the worst by any team.

Their best bet in this phase is perhaps Mohammad Nabi, who they have struggled to squeeze into the XI, and Abdul Samad, the exciting local batsman who has been hitting sixes for fun in the Ranji Trophy. But Nabi is vulnerable against high pace, which most teams have in plenty now, and Samad is still developing. SRH sorely lack firepower they can rely on in the death overs.

Another area SRH have fallen behind in comparison to other teams is having a fast bowling enforcer in the middle overs to complement Rashid. Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals set the trend last season by using high pace in the middle overs with immense success.

SRH, who have few quicks capable of bowling 140kmph or more consistently, banging it into the wicket, could have chosen to fit in a fast bowler in Marsh’s stead, thereby also plugging the hole left by Stanlake. Quite a few of them, including the exciting Chemar Holder and Oshane Thomas from West Indies, South Africa’s Hardus Viljoen, and Nathan Ellis from Australia went unsold in the auction and could have bolstered this SRH bowling attack.

SRH head coach Trevor Bayliss has long had a soft spot for Roy, and his near unwavering backing has paid off in the past. During his stint as England head coach, Bayliss backed Roy through periods of poor form, and even when he injured himself during the 2019 Cricket World Cup, chose not to replace him in the squad, knowing the impact he could have. Roy repaid the faith, smashing a tone-setting half-century in England’s must-win game against India. Then, Bayliss backed Roy as opener in the Test side, in the Ashes series that would largely define his legacy in that format for England, with less successful results.

But this is less about the player Roy is and could be, and more about what he definitely isn’t. It’s hard to escape the feeling that Bayliss and Tom Moody have missed two chances here, first with a horrible auction, and then squandering the opportunity to make up for it.

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