While Jonny Bairstow is the batsman who has replaced Williamson in the XI, the one who could make it difficult for Williamson's return is Mohammad Nabi. The Afghanistan all-rounder produced yet another masterly spell of 4-0-13-1, helping Hyderabad restrict Mumbai Indians to just 136 for 7 in 20 overs on Saturday (April 6).
But the way Hyderabad performed in the chase showed Williamson is still a must in the line up. David Warner and Bairstow have done the bulk of the scoring this season - their three century stands means the middle order has not had enough game time. The lack of game time and game awareness came to the fore in the chase after Warner and Bairstow fell cheaply.
Vijay Shankar, who has been a constant No. 3 this season, has had a couple of good scores against Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals respectively, but threw away a good chance on Saturday. Manish Pandey exudes no confidence - he received a life when on zero when Kieron Pollard dropped a sitter, but failed to make use of it. Yusuf Pathan failed, and so did Deepak Hooda. Hyderabad were bowled out for just 96 with debutant Alzarri Joseph picking up an astonishing 6/12 on IPL debut.
Hyderabad could do with the experience of Williamson in the middle order - he's the perfect batsman to control chases like this. But it will be no easy task to drop Nabi as well. Warner, Bairstow and Rashid Khan are definite starters as well.
Nabi has played three matches in the season so far, and is second in the list of highest wicket-takers with seven scalps. The most incredible aspect of his bowling has been that he has conceded just 45 runs from 72 balls across three innings; his previous two spells were 2/21 against Delhi Capitals and 4/11 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. In three games, he has conceded only two boundaries.
There's an even more incredible part to Nabi's bowling this season: as many as eight of his 12 overs have come within the Power Play.
Hyderabad's biggest strength is their bowling, but they've been having issues this season with Bhuvneshwar Kumar not in the best of form. He has picked up only three wickets from five matches at an economy in excess of nine. Teams are playing out Rashid Khan too, which means Hyderabad have been in need of a strike bowler. Nabi has stepped up beautifully, providing the early breakthroughs.
Nabi did just that on Saturday in Hyderabad, dismissing Rohit Sharma who looked in ominous touch. Coming into the game against SRH, Rohit had only 107 runs from four matches despite opening in all games. On Saturday, he seemed to have decided to attack his way into form.
In the very first over of the game, Rohit slogged Bhuvneshwar across and got a thick outside edge, which Siddarth Kaul at third man lost under the lights. In the next over, Rohit heaved across for a massive six, signaling his intentions clearly. Hyderabad had to get Rohit early and they turned to Nabi immediately.
Rohit watchfully flicked the first ball for a single, but he was not in the mood to do that for a long time. The next ball he faced from the off-spinner, he slogged across only to be caught at deep mid-wicket.
Nabi went on to complete yet another miserly spell. On any other day it should have been a match-winning spell that would have sealed his place in the side. But at the end of a whirlwind night, Hyderabad were left with plenty of selection headaches.
*Updated till Sunrisers Hyderabad's game against Mumbai Indians.
First Published: April 6, 2019, 11:53 PM IST