Sunrisers Hyderabad v Chennai Super Kings: Another low-scoring match on the cards at Sharjah

Sunrisers Hyderbad all-rounder Jason Holder
Jason Holder is one of Paul's selections, for top Sunrisers batsman

The formbook firmly points to an easy Chennai win today but Paul Krishnamurty says, given Sunrisers improvement last time, we're better off focusing on low runs and sixes...

"Scoring is really drying up at today's ground. 125 proved a winning first innings score at Sharjah on Saturday, while 127 was chased down on Tuesday. ...Both matches produced a mere seven sixes."

Sunrisers Hyderabad v Chennai Super Kings
Thursday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Top plays bottom today at Sharjah, in a match that all but amounts to a dead rubber. Chennai have effectively qualified for the play-offs and that all-important top-two slot looks nearly certain too. Sunrisers are merely playing for pride.

Chennai a class apart as reflected by odds

On that basis, one would have to argue that 1.684/6 about Chennai understates their supremacy. There has indeed been a vast gulf between the two sides. However, I'd be wary of assuming that supremacy translates into an easy win, given that Sunrisers suddenly improved out of all recognition in their last match.

The main reason was obvious, and really should have been for the whole season. At last, Jason Roy came in as opener, smashing 60 off 42 balls. Why on earth they persisted with the terminally declining David Warner when their season was still alive, is one of the great mysteries of 2021.

Both sides' bowlers very proficient in slow conditions

Sunrisers enjoyed a great run during the second half of last season, coming from nowhere to reach the second qualifier. Their bowlers came into their element once pitches slowed. Rashid Khan in particular but the whole unit performed. That is precisely the conditions we've seen in recent days. Now the pressure is off and only pride is left to play for, they may well spring a surprise or two.

That said, this would be the ultimate surprise. Whilst their performance was a big improvement, beating Rajasthan doesn't amount to very much. Chennai have been imperious and, furthermore, their bowlers should be every bit as well suited to these conditions.

Nevertheless, I do expect Chennai will slip up at least once in these closing matches, as they inevitably take their foot off the gas, rest players, experiment with the batting order.

I included Sunrisers for this as the first leg of my 100/1 treble - a challenge to coincide with the 100th episode of Cricket...Only Bettor. Stronger angles, however, can probably be found in the side markets.

Sixes line looks set too high

Scoring is really drying up at today's ground. A total of 125 proved a winning first innings score at Sharjah on Saturday, while 127 was chased down on Tuesday. The latter was a better pitch but on that evidence, I reckon par is 140 at best.

Both matches produced a mere seven sixes. This despite some of the shortest boundaries you'll see in top-class cricket. On faster surfaces, 30 would be very much in range.

Measuring a par score is a real dilemma for captains and market makers. One hundred and fifty plus started odds-on on at around 1.454/9 on Tuesday - in itself a stark reaction to the previous match, and yet still apparently way too high. If 1.75/7 is available today, lay it. If not, leave an order in the system in the hope it gets matched.

On the sixes front, the stats from those last two matches suggests going unders at 12.5 is an obvious strategy.

The two enhanced players in the Top Team Runscorer markets are Faf du Plessis and Jason Roy - to 3.412/5 and 3.7511/4 respectively. I prefer several alternatives.

First, as Richard Mann has been pointing out all season on the podcast, Ruturaj Gaikwad is massively overpriced at 4.3310/3 for Chennai. That is probably a full point too high about the opener.

Powerful finishers preferred for top bat

My favoured tactic at Sharjah, however, is to look for big-hitting finishers. If the score is indeed around 130-135, this market is winnable with 30, which could be made up with a slog during the death overs. Try these players.

For Chennai, 13/1 about the ever improving Ravi Jadeja appeals. For Sunrisers, I'll stick with my successful selection from two matches ago - Jason Holder at 19/1.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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