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IPL 2023: Markram won Sunrisers Eastern Cape the SA 20 title; will he bring SRH an IPL trophy?

IPL 2023: Aiden Markram won Sunrisers Eastern Cape the SA20 title; will he bring Sunrisers Hyderabad an IPL trophy? Markram scored 366 runs at an average of 33.27 for the Sunrisers Eastern Cape in SA20 League.

IPL 2022, SRH vs KKR, Top Performances_ Aiden Markram scores half century (68) and helps SRH win, SRH register third win _ Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI_IPL)
Will Aiden Markram be SRH new Captain? (Images ©IPL/Twitter)

Aiden Markram was destined to be a captain at some point or another after leading his country to their maiden World Cup glory in Under-19 cricket and his franchise team Sunrisers Eastern Cape towards a title win in the inaugural season of SA20.

After an outstanding season as a skipper in the inaugural season of SA20, the owners of Sunrisers didn’t take too long to appoint Markram as captain of Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023. After consecutive years of shocking sell-offs in the form of David Warner in 2022 and Kane Williamson in 2023, the not so calculated team management of Sunrisers entrusted Aiden Markram to lead SRH with an aim to replicate his golden year in the IPL. And the team management has not just changed two captains in two years but has completely eradicated them from their team sheets. So, leading into the third season of a new captain, one can probably say "no pressure" as such, Mr Markram.

Did SRH explore all captaincy options?

In a span of two months, Aiden Markram has won a T20 title as captain for his domestic franchise, won bragging rights to become skipper of the South African national T20I team, and is the flag-bearer in the IPL too. So, without a shadow of doubt, to begin with, if not anything else, Markram would definitely bring his Midas touch of 2023 to the table. In the current SRH squad, only Mayank Agarwal and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have the experience of leading the team in the IPL. After a pretty awful debut season as skipper for the Punjab Kings, Mayank Agarwal was released from that squad only to be drafted into the SRH squad. The SRH captaincy conundrum seemed to have settled a bit with Mayank’s inclusion. Then came the SA20 league. Markram winning the title with Sunrisers Eastern Cape in 2023 was an unexpected climax, much like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. With both experienced players, Mayank and Bhuvi, reaching the twilight of their careers, SRH management’s decision to back Markram was made easier.

What does Markram bring to the table?

The third-highest run scorer of SA20 league, Aiden Markram, scored 366 runs at an average of 33.27 for the Sunrisers Eastern Cape. Though Markram had the lowest strike rate (127.97) amongst all the top five run-scorers in SA20, the stability is exactly what SRH needs from Markram. Given the power-packed batting lineup this year, reassurance comes in the form of the man of the year in 2022, Harry Brook, followed by Glenn Phillips, Mayank Agarwal, Heinrich Klaasen, Rahul Tripathy and Abhishek Sharma. Literally, every possible batter in their top six can go bonkers from ball one. In an age of attacking batters, SRH’s lineup needs a stable, sheet anchor player.

Markram, who has played 18 IPL innings, has scored 527 runs with an average of 40.54 and a more than decent strike rate of 134.10. And that is what SRH need, and that is exactly what Markram can bring to the table, if he promotes himself up the order.

Markram, the captain, led from the front in both crunch matches for the Sunrisers Eastern Cape. Scoring a match-winning 100* in the semi-final off just 58 deliveries, taking his team to an above-par score of 213-5. Markram then doubled it up by playing a 19-ball 26 cameo in the final to help SEC chase a mediocre score of 136 runs. What stood out apart from Markram’s batting was how he marshalled his troops and made strategic bowling changes, which is an art in T20 cricket. Rob Walter, the new white-ball coach of SA, was pleased with Markram’s captaincy in the final One Day International (ODI) against the West Indies on Tuesday, March 21. "I thought he did a very good job, and it’s not surprising. I’m fully aware of his leadership capabilities, and I thought he marshalled the troops quite nicely," said Walter. "He made some good tactical decisions around bowling changes, which was good to see, so I’m just looking for more of the same."

Markram, who has played as a player under Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Temba Bavuma and Heinrich Klaasen in South African colours, and under KL Rahul and Kane Williamson in the IPL, has found an inspiring leader in Du Plessis out of all the captains. "How Faf managed to marshal his troops was something I really looked up to and something I strive to become. I’ve learned a lot from him, probably without his knowing it, just by observing from the side," Markram said. "The years of being in this environment have helped. We’ve had some great leaders around, so to sponge information off of them and see how they operate has also shaped the way I am starting to think as well."

SA20 League_ Aiden Markram scored 340 runs from 11 games in SA20 league _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©ProteasMenCSA_Twitter)
Markram led Sunrisers Eastern Cape to SA20 title (Images: ©ProteasMenCSA_Twitter)

Can SRH be the dark horse under Markram?

A successful captain who led his national team to win their first ever ICC trophy as an Under-19 captain always highlights the signs of being a promising leader. Markram was then entrusted to manage the troops in the absence of Faf du Plessis in the ODI series against India in 2017–18. Everything went against Markram, right from the toss to the match, as the Proteas were humiliated 5-1 on their home turf by the Indians.

With Markram being appointed as the SRH captain and the SA20 team captain, the tide of luck definitely seems to be in his favour. However, captaining in the South African Twenty20 League and the IPL will be a totally different ballgame, with international giants and Indian domestic biggies under the same roof and the alien conditions to act as the devil’s advocate for Markram.

Sunrisers Hyderabad will take on Rajasthan Royals in their first match of IPL 2023 on April 2, 2023, at their home stadium, Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. Only time will tell whether Markram’s appointment as captain was a masterstroke or just another uncalculated decision from the SRH management.


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