Chennai Super Kings v Sunrisers Hyderabad
Saturday, 11:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
It feels ridiculous to talk of 'must-win affairs' at this early stage of the competition but this match pretty much fits the description. Neither side has earned a point yet. With the league now consisting of ten teams, rather than eight, coming back to reach the play-offs from here is already a tall order.
That is reflected by the outright betting - CSK are 23.022/1, Sunrisers 50.049/1. Not too surprising for the latter, who started out as the outsiders and finished bottom last year. But Chennai are the defending champions and a mainstay in the play-offs.
Champions reeling from squad decimation
So what's gone wrong? The loss of Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina and Josh Hazlewood, plus injury to Deepak Chahar is crippling. Worse, their star batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad has started the tournament terribly. Any team would struggle to take such hits to their top order and strike bowling.
I don't believe this squad is good enough to get back into contention but equally, don't believe Chennai's stars won't bounce back sooner or later. Gaikwad in particular, but also Moeen Ali and Ravi Jadeja.
Chennai still boast deep, powerful batting line-up
As always, CSK bat very deep. Last time they had a genuine all-rounder in Dwaine Pretorius at nine and, at 10, Chris Jordan can be a very effective slogger. They have the tools to be aggressive for the whole 20 overs, yet two of their three batting displays have been a disaster. The other match saw the batsmen show their real potential, hitting 210.
This opposition definitely offers a chance to show it again. Of the Sunrisers bowlers, only Bhuvneshwar Kumar has an economy below 8.0 so far. They also conceded 210 in one of their two defeats. If the top order settle, another very big total is in range at a ground with short boundaries.
Williamson needs to reshuffle Sunrisers order
To be fair to Sunrisers, they've only played two games so could yet improve. Again, it needs the top order to build a platform for numerous powerful finishers. Kane Williamson failed on both starts and would be well advised to demote himself to an anchor role down the order, enabling more aggression from the start. Push up either Aiden Markram, who has opened for South Africa, or a pinch-hitter such as Romario Shepherd.
Like Chennai, I expect over the course of the season, this batting line-up to have their moments when all falls into place but be let be down by a weak bowling unit.
Patil Stadium boundaries are vulnerable
That would point to backing runs. Scores have come down in the last two matches at the DY Patil Stadium but we have seen scores above 190 in two from five first innings. Thanks to 27 in the first match, the average number of sixes per match is 15.6.
Given Sunrisers' weak bowling, beating the 7.5 Total Chennai Sixes line looks very much within range. I wouldn't deter anyone from backing big totals for either team in the 1st Innings Runs market, or Both Teams to Score 180/190, but sixes looks the best way to get onside.
Note this is a morning match so dew won't be a factor. Last Saturday morning at this ground, Rajasthan hit 193 and defended it with plenty to spare.
Gaikwad overdue a big innings
Today's two #OddsBoost offers are Ruturaj Gaikwad and Kane Williamson to top-score for their respective sides. 3/1 about the latter makes no appeal but 7/2 for Gaikwad is generous given his strike rate. My Cricket...Only Bettor colleague Ed Hawkins always urges bettors to follow the numbers and in Gaikwad's case, they point to a bet.
Top overall runscorer in the 2021 renewal, Gaikwad led the CSK scoring in five out of 16 matches. Remember that included stiff opposition up top from Du Plessis. Backing these odds in every match would, I reckon, pay off in the long-term.
Likewise, I don't think you'll go far wrong backing Ravi Jadeja for Man of the Match honours in every match at 16/1. He could win it via an effort with either bat or ball.
These pro-Chennai bets particularly appeal given the standard of opposition. It is perfectly possible that Sunrisers bat first, are restricted, leaving an easy total to chase, giving the openers a big advantage.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty