Sunrisers v KKR: Extra motivation can propel Kolkata to the play-offs

Dinesh Karthik is a value at 7/1 to top score for KKR
KKR batsman Dinesh Karthik
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Heading into their final group game, only one side has something to play for. Paul Krishnamurty is already on KKR for the title and is confident they will rise to the occasion again...

"Kolkata's spinners should thrive here and a team packed with matchwinners appears to be peaking at just the right time."

Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kolkata Knight Riders
Saturday, 15:30 BST

Live on Sky Sports Cricket

The final weekend of the IPL group stages is always a dramatic affair, involving all-or-nothing, must-win games and numerous permutations regarding qualification. Only one of these sides, however, needs to win and that explains behind the early market trends. Despite topping the table and winning five from six home matches at fortress Hyderabad, Sunrisers are rated outsiders at [2.12].

Sunrisers may experiment

This is a dead rubber for the hosts, who are guaranteed a top-two place and therefore two cracks at reaching the final. Lack of incentive was probably partly responsible for losing last time to Bangalore - who appeared hungrier and won it by slogging during the death overs, against a Sunrisers attack shorn of the rested Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

It will be no surprise to see an experimental line-up today but their two biggest stars do have an extra incentive to perform. The leaders in both Purple and Orange Cap races both represent Punjab, who probably have just one match remaining. That means Rashid Khan and Kane Williamson are well capable of overhauling respective deficits of eight wickets and 27 runs.

A cup final for the Knight Riders

A comfortable victory over Rajasthan kept KKR's hopes of a third title very much alive, but they will not be assured of a play-off spot when this game starts. A much superior run-rate compared to Punjab and Rajasthan means that if either of them beat CSK or RCB respectively, merely avoiding a heavy defeat here would probably be enough. However if Mumbai and Bangalore both win their final games, Kolkata must win this.

Whatever the scenario, they will be treating it like a cup final and after the manner in which their stars delivered in the last two high pressure matches, they should set a formidable standard. As explained when advising an outright bet at [11.5] before their last game, KKR would enjoy home advantage in their first two play-offs.

Back another low total at Hyderabad

Unless conditions are markedly different from the Hyderabad norm, everything points towards backing 'Unders'. The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium is consistently one of the lower scoring grounds in IPL. Four of this season's six first innings totals were below 150 and a winning 182 was the only score better than 163. This pitch is generally slow and conducive to spin, which very much plays to the strengths of both attacks. Rashid Khan, Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav, who was superb on Wednesday, should be in their element.

All of this will be factored into a lower par run line but we should still be able to lay bands from 160 downwards at odds-on. The plan is to place lay orders on 150 plus and 160 plus at [1.35] and [1.6]. If they're not matched before play starts, (they are rarely that high but we can't be sure this early), place orders to lay them in-running.

Kolkata spinners should thrive on this pitch

Will extra motivation prove decisive? Betting odds-on about such assumptions is inherently risky, especially away to arguably the best home team in the league. Nevertheless if forced to pick, Kolkata would get the nod. Their spinners should thrive here and a team packed with matchwinners appears to be peaking at just the right time.

Superb Williamson a standout favourite

Williamson is correctly a hot favourite to top-score for the hosts at 23/10, and appeals more than Alex Hales or Shikhar Dhawan at 3/1. The New Zealand captain has silenced doubts about his suitability for T20 and is enjoying a superb season.

Karthik remains well worth a punt

The KKR market is much more wide-open and complicated. Dinesh Karthik is by far their highest runscorer and was second when tipped here in their last two matches, losing by four on 41 not out last time. It is of course very hard to win from batting at number five, but 7/1 remains a value price.


Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty


Paul's IPL 2018 Profit/Loss:

+23.5 units

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