Gujarat Lions were struggling to make the frame when they had Brendon McCullum and Andrew Tye firing on all cylinders. Now their antipodean pairing have been ruled out by injury their deficiencies have been truly exposed.
At the start of the tournament they were a team with star overseas batsmen that might make enough to make it work. While their bowling attack has lived down to it's billing the batting, bar McCullum and Suresh Raina, has not delivered the goods either. McCullum and Tye, their only bowler to emerge with any credit, carried so much of the burden their shoulders packed in.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad have been looking over their shoulders as Kings XI Punjab's later charge has threatened their playoff hopes. But they know that a victory over Gujarat will be enough to disappoint Glenn Maxwell's men. A defeat today however will leave the door ajar for Kings XI to beat Rising Pune Supergiants in their final group game on Sunday and oust the defending champions.
David Warner's team came through late last season to make the playoffs and ultimately lift the crown. They therefore know what it takes and will be hoping they didn't write the blueprint for Kings XI to follow this time around.
The positive for Hyderabad is that their fate is in their own hands. Win this game and Kings XI can't overhaul them. The negative is their away form, which has seen them lose four games, and that in the pressure cooker of an IPL showdown anything could happen!
If, at the start of the IPL, Sunrisers had been given the scenario that they would require a win from their final game to qualify for the last four they might have been tempted. Add the opposition as the Gujarat Lions and the equation gets even more juicy. The defending champions would have preferred to tie up their playoff berth before now, but it's in their own hands and should be straightforward. But we all know 'should' doesn't always lead to 'did'.
The doubt would be Sunrisers' form away from home. They have six wins in seven home matches but have lost four and only won one away, with the game against RCB abandoned. That said, they are a better team than Gujarat and are fairly priced at [1.66]. It's not a price that tempts me, but neither does the [2.22] on the Lions. I'm steering clear and hope cricket is the winner.
I've developed a strategy that has been working recently. By picking a full stakes shortie and a half stakes longer option down the order you get two bites of the cherry. The Lions main man in this competition has been their skipper Suresh Raina and without McCullum the onus is on him to perform.
He's also not the kind of man to let the fact that they cannot make the playoffs sap his determination and is the safe bet at 13/5. Further down the order my longer option is Aaron Finch who has looked in decent form of late and is way too big at 6/1.
When the chips are down and the pressure is on a team looks to it's experienced campaigners to perform. David Warner is capable of destroying any attack and is the safe play at 8/5. That may seem short, but that's because it lands so frequently. The longer half stakes play is Moises Henriques at 6/1. The Australian all-rounder batted at three in the order in the last match and has the ability to deliver.
Top Sunrisers Bowler
You'll note I've avoided the Gujarat bowling bet. Any side where the main weapon in the field is James Faulkner has problems. The Australian has been brilliant in the past, but is no longer the threat of old.
In contrast Sunrisers have two men who have shone in IPL 2017. Bhuvneshwar Kumar leads the line and bowls the key overs where wickets can be picked up cheaply and is still value at 5/2. Afghan leggie, Rashid Khan, has been brilliant and so often picked up a wicket and changed a game in his first over. With Khan 10/3 you can split your stake across the two and have taken three corners of the market and given yourself every chance.
2pts Suresh Raina to be top Gujarat Lions batsman at 13/5
3pts David Warner to be top Sunrisers Hyderabad batsman at 8/5
1pt Moises Henriques to be top Sunrisers Hyderabad batsman at 6/1
1pts each of Bhuvneshwar Kumar at 5/2 and Rashid Khan at 10/3 to be top Sunrisers Hyderabad bowler
James Buttler at IPL 2017