SRH captain admitted his form left him frustrated as the tournament progressed. AFP

It must not be an easy defeat to swallow for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Their defeat to Delhi Capitals in the Eliminator marks the end of a season that's witnessed them lose more than win, still make the playoffs and then botch another shot at redemption. Even their losses haven't felt like their own.

Successful teams have a niche way of operation. Sunrisers, winners of the Indian Premier League in 2016, have always prioritised bowling over batting, priding themselves at defending whatever their batting line-up racks up. But this season has been different. They have lost six out of eight games defending, the only two successes being when defending scores of 212 and 231. In total contrast, Sunrisers successfully defended five out of nine times last year, managing to win games where their batting group has been limited to scores as low as 118 and 127.

"To qualify with six wins, it doesn't look pretty," Kane Williamson, Sunrisers captain, said after the match on Wednesday. "But it is what it is and we were the fourth team in eight teams and is what we were able to achieve. It is a little bit frustrating when the margin is so small. We were on the losing side of so many of those margins.

"I suppose it in contrast to the last season. We might have had 4-5 very, very close games when we were on the right side of the result. This year we have been in very similar positions but with Super Over and times like today, we haven't been on the right side on any of those matches. I guess if you reflect back, there were frustrating moments, also some positives with every game we were in a with a chance to win. Unfortunately, there were times when we were not able to capitalise."

What hurt Sunrisers further was the form of Williamson himself. Last year, Williamson had 735 runs across 17 innings, which starkly contrasts to 156 runs across nine innings this year. Not only did he struggle with fitness early on in the season but he also found it difficult to get going when back, struggling to make sense of the kind of role he's supposed to play after the big opening stands between Jonny Bairstow and David Warner. Williamson, as a result, spent only 130 deliveries at the crease, the least number of balls he's faced in the last three seasons.

"For me, personally, my season has been a little bit frustrating, a little bit disjointed. But then, if you reflect and try and look at it with a rational mind, there's been so many occasions where our openers have been outstanding, which pushes everything back. You come in and your role changes a little bit. You are trying to adapt as well as you can and some of your contributions look a little bit different. But at the same time, you are going out to make a contribution for your team. It's one of those things. It's the nature of the sport and we try to learn and improve," Williamson said.

Selection calls have plagued the season too. None out of Deepak Hooda, Yusuf Pathan or Abhishek Sharma could nail down the number-six spot. Even for the Eliminator, the team management brought in Hooda in place of the incumbent Pathan.

Bowling wise, it's been the worst. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has now endured two average seasons in a row and is clearly no longer the force he used to be with the old and the new ball. Sandeep Sharma and Basil Thampi have been fighting each other for a spot all season while Sidharth Kaul has failed to step up, but it's Khaleel Ahmed's wicket-taking ability that has impressed Williamson. Even though he preferred Thampi over Khaleel to bowl the all-important 18th over against Delhi in Visakhapatnam, Williamson credited Khaleel for bringing them back into the game towards the end.

"Khaleel has been outstanding in his ability to pick up wickets in the powerplay and through the middle, when we have brought him back. He's been a real threat for us this season when he's had his opportunities. And he showed that again today, picking up two wickets in that (11th) over which changed momentum quickly.

"I guess on that surface, we knew that if are able to get the breakthroughs, which often happen outside the powerplay, when you can move your field around a bit more, then you are able to apply that pressure. Starting out there outside the powerplay is very difficult, which we saw in both innings. It was nice that we were able to pick those wickets and Khaleel was a big part of that."