It's a tough game to call between a Bangalore side on the up and a Hyderabad team who are already in the playoffs so look to the in-form Shikhar Dhawan and the Sunrisers' Bangladesh import to make their mark, says Jamie Pacheco...
"Given that 79 was preceded by 92 not out it might be worth striking while the iron is hot. The way Hyderabad play, with their top three looking to hang around as long as possible in the absence of a reliable middle-order, it’s a shoot-out between Dhawan, Williamson and Alex Hales. Go with Dhawan."
Royal Challengers v Hyderabad Sunrisers
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Bangalore balanced at last
There are plenty of different potential permutations regarding who needs to do what to qualify but we know one thing: Bangalore have to win their last two matches to be in with a shot. Even then it might not be enough but that's as much as they can do themselves.
To be fair to them, they've actually learnt from their past mistakes and even those from earlier on in the season. The team they've fielded in the past couple of games is arguably the most balanced they've had in years, especially in terms of the overseas players. So that means AB de Villiers at four, Moeen Ali as a top order batsman bowling a couple of overs when needed, Colin de Grandhomme bowling as and when the conditions suit him and batting at six or seven and Tim Southee providing some real class with the ball as a strike bowler.
The decision to recall Parthiv Patel has paid off, too. By bringing him back into the side at the expense of the out-of-form Quinton de Kock they've solved the wicket-keeping problem, have a proper opening batsman in place and free up an overseas spot. He scored 40 off 22 balls last time out as Bangalore thrashed Kings XI and massively improved their net run rate.
Sunrisers can't afford to lose momentum
It's becoming increasingly hard to know what to make of this Hyderabad side. Two matches ago they were chasing a huge total with ease but last time out they were guilty of falling back into their old bad habits of batting too slowly. Or more precisely, Kane Williamson was. The skipper's 51 was a good contribution in a sense; it was the strike rate of 130 that was the problem. You can't be scoring at that rate from number three when setting Chennai's powerful batting line-up a total and expect it to be enough. And this time their brilliant bowling attack wasn't able to rescue them. They only took two wickets as Chennai chased 180.
Still, we shouldn't be too critical. They're top of the table and better still, guaranteed to finish Top Two, giving them two bites of the cherry in terms of making the final. But they don't want to be going into that first IPL Play-Off match on the back of three straight defeats. That's why this match is important to Williamson and his troops.
It's hard to justify Bangalore being favourites for this match given they're separated in the table by eight points. But there are three possible reasons for it. One: the belief that the team who most needs to win the match often does. Two: Bangalore are always under-priced irrespective of form, venue or opposition. Three: Bangalore have won two in a row, Hyderabad lost last time out.
Normally, we'd jump on Hyderabad's odds-against price but we've seen these late season Bangalore runs before. And we fear Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers may just be sort of batsmen good enough and confident enough to knock the stuffing out of Hyderabad's bowlers. So it's with a little bit of regret that we'll leave the Sunrisers' [2.16] alone.
I think sometimes the betting markets get a little bit too obsessed with a particular player and that's been the case this IPL season with Rashid Khan. Yes, he's a brilliant bowler and considering he's still a teenager, will only get better. But in an attempt to sort of protect themselves from favourites backers, they often make him far too short in most markets.
He's 9/4 here to be Hyderabad's top bowler. Khan has 13 wickets so far but at 4/1 you can back S Kaul, who also has 13. And at 7/2 you can back Shakib Al-Hasan who has just one less with 12, an almost identical strike and economy rate and has bowled his full quota of overs in almost every match. Surely it's value to back the Bangladesh spinner at almost twice the price of the Afghanistan spinner when their numbers are so similar.
We had a nice 7/2 winner last time out when backing Shikhar Dhawan to get to 50; he got to 79. The rationale ahead of that one was that when he finds form, he stays in his form. The downside of him is that when he's in a rut, he can't buy a run, something that happened earlier in the campaign.
Given that 79 was preceded by 92 not out it might be worth striking while the iron is hot. The way Hyderabad play, with their top three looking to hang around as long as possible in the absence of a reliable middle-order, it's a shoot-out between him, Williamson and Alex Hales. Go with Dhawan.
He'll have a lot more experience of this venue and the opposition than Hales and is a bigger price at 3/1 than the Kiwi (23/10) who does admittedly deserve respect. It's an easy choice nonetheless.
Jamie's IPL 2018 P/L
Staked: 24 pts
Returned: 22 pts
P&L: -2 pts