Will Hyderabad’s sun rise in David Warner’s absence?

Nobody, not even the returning Chennai Super Kings, have come close to retaining as sizeable a chunk of their squad as Sunrisers have. Thirteen players – twelve, without the suspended David Warner – from their IPL 2017 squad will be part of the mix again this season, and if indeed an aspect of their game was broke (see wicketkeeping, middle-order batting, David Warner), they seem to have spruced it up with necessary fixes and upgrades. After a title-winning 2016 season, and a playoff exit last year, Sunrisers go into IPL 2018 with one of the strongest squads on paper, with backups at the ready for almost every single role.
Squad
Kane Williamson (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Alex Hales, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Deepak Hooda, Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Nabi, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ricky Bhui, Tanmay Agarwal, Sachin Baby, Carlos Brathwaite, Chris Jordan, Shreevats Goswami (wk), Mehdi Hasan, Bipul Sharma, Rashid Khan, Syed Khaleel Ahmed, T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Basil Thampi, Billy Stanlake
Where they finished in 2017: Fourth place
Will they make the playoffs? Despite Warner’s absence, they should have enough legs to make the top four once again.
By many counts, Sunrisers did some of the most astute business at the auction. They retained their two indispensable assets, Warner and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, saved a few crores while reacquiring Afghanistan wristspinner Rashid Khan, and got back most of their core without getting into manic bidding wars. Wriddhiman Saha’s acquisition offers them a safer pair of hands and useful runs, Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan have been brought in to shore up a flagging middle order, while snapping up the consistent Sandeep Sharma’s services for INR 3 Crore ($0.47 million) was somewhat of a steal. That’s most boxes ticked, especially when you consider how much tinkering big auctions force upon franchises.
The biggest question facing them is how they will cope with Warner’s absence. He has been replaced by Kane Williamson as captain, and by the big-hitting Alex Hales at the top of the order. Three seasons on after being signed up by Sunrisers, Williamson has only played 15 games, his steady batting often proving superfluous to their requirements. How he fares with the bat in the absence of the run-machine Warner will be key to their fortunes.
The good
In Warner’s absence, bowling is clearly Sunrisers’ stronger suit. They arguably have the best Powerplay bowling combination in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Sandeep Sharma, who have a combined economy rate of 6.47 over the past three seasons while picking up a wicket every 25 balls. Bhuvneshwar’s excellence extends to death bowling, where his accuracy has won tight games in recent times.