They topped the league phase alright. Without David Warner, Sunrisers Hyderabad's season seemed to be headed to misery as they had a batting line-up consisting can-you-trust-him Shikhar Dhawan, slow-for-T20 Kane Williamson and a hit-or-miss Manish Pandey. What did work in favour of Sunrisers was an unforgiving bowling line-up.

When they defended totals, they did so vehemently. They literally had a defunct middle-order, a shoddy keeper, a handful of finishers who seemed way past their expiry date. But they won, and won big.

Dhawan fired when it mattered, Williamson batted like he owned the team and his salary depended on his performances, Shakib took the new ball, floated through the batting line-up and dismissed Virat Kohli and even Yusuf Pathan helped them chase down a target. Their bowling, though, was the toast of the IPL. They were relentless, attacking and challenged themselves to defend anything.

In Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan, they had T20 white ball masters. In Siddharth Kaul they had an able student and a quick learner and Shakib-al-Hasan brought all his experience of thriving on slow Eden tracks to the two paced surfaces at Hyderabad. Sandeep Sharma was rigorous at the top and barely gave anything away.

In their first eight games, Sunrisers Hyderabad have away more than 50 runs only once in the powerplay overs. Sandeep and Bhuvneshwar were impossible to get away while Shakib extracted turn and bounce to pick wickets. It turned out to be a deadly combination.

More often than not, Sunrisers won in these powerplay overs alone. They made just 46.23 runs on an average in the first six overs as a batting team, the worst among all of eight teams. But, on the other hand, they conceded just 45.08 runs as a bowling team in these very overs, the best among all eight teams.

They won nine of the fourteen games and go into the play-offs as the number one team, but are they really invincible?

Debunking the myth surrounding Sunrisers Hyderabad

While it's indeed true that Sunrisers Hyderabad have benefited from a rejuvenated Kane Williamson, the franchise has more than a problem or two on the batting front. For starters, their over-reliance on Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson is jarring.

They opened with Shreevats Goswami the other night and the experiment was a success. But there is every reason not to persist with the move. It brings in Kane Williamson at no.3, a position he could fit in snugly only if Sunrisers lose early wickets.

Although his 36 run knock at a strike rate of 211 against Kolkata on Saturday thwarted a few fears, it is unreasonable to expect a batsman like Williamson to go bonkers from ball one. If Sunrisers are to nail down a trophy, Williamson has to open. Period.

There is of course the Alex Hales factor but there is every reason to use someone like him at 3 and push Williamson to the top. The middle-order has been woeful and is better not discussed.

Batting-wise, Sunrisers have quite a few players occupying places without really contributing much and this in itself is their major issue. They haven't scored big in the first six overs with the skipper's strike rate in these overs less than 120. Dhawan strikes at a rate a shade over 120 but is still not anywhere close to being the best T20 powerplay batsman.

What this eventually implies is that things could go downhill for Sunrisers Hyderabad unless they get good starts from their openers and one of them stays on.

They lost their last three matches in succession and it is interesting to note that teams found a way of getting past them with an aggressor at the top of the order. Kolkata racked up 66 runs on Saturday at Hyderabad with Sunil Narine slamming 29 in 10 balls to derail Sunrisers’ powerplay plans.

Against CSK, Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu went berserk and smashed 53 in the first six. For once, the Williamson-led unit looked sorely out of plans. Their plan A was restricting teams in the powerplay overs and forcing them to take on the likes of Rashid Khan and Siddharth Kaul in the middle overs. With Sandeep and Shakib going for runs, their best plan was turning defunct.

Batting remained as it was with Williamson and Dhawan firing and Manish Pandey continuing to be hit and miss. As they head tonl the play-offs they need to contend with Chennai Super Kings yet again, a team they lost to twice in the league phase.

That Sunrisers appear least prepared for another showdown with Chennai Super Kings is certain. They have lost three on the trot and are searching for answers despite boasting of a bowling attack to rave for.

Are they invincible? Definitely not. Are they without any chance? Perhaps not, with Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals having bigger problems. But provided they do manage to make it to the finals, do they have it in them to usurp an MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings?

We may not have answers until May 27 but for certain, teams have started finding their way around Sunrisers Hyderabad's insanely good bowling attack. That it took a belligerent knock from Sunil Narine seems surprising for the West Indian surely doesn't appear like someone this Sunrisers bowling attack would dread bowling to. As it turned out, he was and it might just be an eye opener to the other three teams in the play-offs.