Kolkata Knight Riders v Gujarat Titans
Saturday April 23rd, 11:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Knight Riders slipping out of contention
Last season's beaten finalists are in danger of missing out on the playoffs after four defeats from their opening seven games. It's tight in mid-table but KKR need to start putting some points on the board.
It's a much-changed franchise for 2022 and new skipper Shreyas Iyer has impressed with the bat but he's in need of support. The belated arrival of Aaron Finch should help. The Australian made 58 from just 28 balls against Rajasthan last time out as Iyer top scored with 85. The fact that the next highest score was just 13 underlines a lack of batting depth.
The bowling unit, with the exception of Sunil Narine, went around the park as the Royals made 217. KKR can bounce back but there are some selection issues to consider with Mohammad Nabi and Sam Billings options to come in.
Titanic early displays put Gujarat at the top
At the top of the table in their very first season are the Gujarat Titans who come into this match with five wins from six. Success in Saturday's game, and moving forward, could depend on how quickly Captain Hardik Pandya returns to the squad.
In a T20 World Cup year, a number of domestic players are making a case for a call up and Hardik has shown maturity in his leadership. He's also made crucial contributions with the bat in these early stages.
The Titans edged past CSK without their skipper last time out. David Miller made 94 while stand-in captain Rashid Khan added 40. A top order collapse which left the team at 16/3 gives cause for concern.
DY Patil plays host
Saturday's game takes place at the impressive DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. The Knight Riders lost to RCB on their only visit here to date while the Titans' solitary defeat also came on this surface.
In 12 previous matches at IPL 15, the average first innings score comes in at a healthy 171 and there's no real benefit in winning the toss. Five of those games have been won by the side taking first knock while the remaining seven have gone with the chasing team.
Based on previous winning targets, whoever does bat first will need to look beyond that average and up to 180 as a minimum.
It's proving to be tough to split these teams: On the sportsbook, both are available at the same win odds while Kolkata have a marginal edge at the exchange. Here, the Knight Riders can be backed at 1.9310/11 with the Gujarat Titans available at 2.0621/20.
Much could depend on whether Hardik Pandya makes the cut. He's had a few more days to rest but I can't find any definite injury updates. Gujarat will be weaker without him and, while they won last time out, it was a tight finish against an underperforming CSK side.
My first instinct was to back the Knight Riders. With Aaron Finch finding form, they should improve from this stage and I'll keep the faith.
I was torn between Shreyas Iyer and Aaron Finch to be Kolkata's top batter. Finch tends to stay in form once he's found it and now starts as favourite at 11/4. However, a price boost on the sportsbook takes Shreyas Iyer to 16/5 and he's my recommended bet for Saturday.
The KKR skipper returned my first profit of IPL 15 with 54 from 33 balls against Delhi and he's since made 85 from 51 against Rajasthan. He doesn't seem troubled with the captaincy and he looks generous at those boosted odds.
Other options include Venkatesh Iyer at 7/2, Nitish Rana at 11/2 and Andre Russell at 6/1.
David Miller could be the biggest danger to KKR on Saturday. He's at his best when chasing seemingly lost causes as he proved against Chennai last time out.
Miller is available at 5/1 to be Gujarat's top scorer while there are some options in the #OddsOnThat section of the sportsbook. Miller and Shreyas Iyer to score at least two 6s each looks a serious tempter at 8/1.