Kolkata Knight Riders v Sunrisers Hyderabad
Saturday 15 April 11.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Kolkata Knight Riders
The Knight Riders could have been feeling a little sorry for themselves after losing Chris Lynn, their fearsome blazer at the top of the order, to a shoulder injury. But against Kings XI, who had made a fast start in the tournament, they showed no malaise whatsoever.
And they came up with a novel replacement. Sunil Narine opened the batting in a chase of 171 and produced the sort of innings Lynn would have been proud of - 37 off 18 balls. The class of Gautam Gambhir did the rest.
There was another surprise in selection. Colin de Grandhomme, the Kiwi all-rounder, kept out Shakib-al-Hasan, the number one ODI all-rounder in the world. We would prefer if KKR brought in the Bangladeshi for this one.
Sunrisers were oddly listless last time out against Mumbai Indians. The market disliked them from the first over, when they were batting first, and after they folded to produce only 158 it was hard not to see why.
They should have got more than that. At 11 for two with five overs left, they were well-placed to go big. But a middle-order, about which we have had concerns, failed to fire.
They really miss Eoin Morgan in the engine room and, even though Ben Cutting has muscle, they look a batter shy. We're not sure about Naman Ojha at number six, either.
Gambhir said this wicket was a dream to bat on against Kings. So we'll take his word for it. Here are last season's scores. 171-1/183-2/103(17)-2/158-2/164-1/187-2/98-2. The seven matches in 2015 produced the following: 202-1/183-2/171-1/167-1/165-2/177-2/168-2. The first-innings scores in the five matches at the WT20 tournament read: 155-2/145-1/118-2/153-2/201-1.
The market is struggling to split the two with KKR [1.94] and Sunrisers [2.04]. Purely on squad ability we would have the hosts as favourites.
The difference between the two, so long as Shakib plays, is the middle order. Kolkata have the edge but otherwise the sides look well-matched.
Sunrisers have a strong pace attack, probably the best in the league, with the return of Mustafizur Rahman while the emergence of Rashid Khan as a spinner of class has given them something extra.
Is the toss key? Well, KKR are good chasers and it has been easier to chase at Eden Gardens of late. But that could be down to the dew factor in night games.
Narine is 6/1 on Sportsbook to top score. We rather hope KKR are savvy and restore Gambhir and Robin Uthappa as openers. Narine as an opener has worked once but it is unlikely to keep paying off as Melbourne Renegades discovered. If Uthappa gets his spot back he's probably underrated at 7/2.
It sounds odd to say that David Warner is underrated at 2/1 on Sportsbook but we really don't think he has much to beat here. Shikhar Dhawan is a threat but, with prices as big as [3.4] available on the exchange this series, the Aussie is a value wager.
1pt Warner top Sunrisers runscorer at [3.4]
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017.
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