Hosts Mumbai are on a run of victories and sit atop the IPL table, while Gujarat finally opened their account with a win on Friday. Richard O'Hagan looks forward to the contest between them...
"As the visitors are in such poor away form and as Mumbai have won two-thirds of their IPL games at home, it is simply not worth the risk of backing anyone other than the Indians."
Mumbai Indians v Gujarat Lions
Sunday April 16
Live on Sky Sports
Mumbai kicked off the IPL's Good Friday double-header with a thrilling four wicket win in Bengaluru. Chasing a modest 143 for victory, they were are one point 33-5 before 70 from Kieron Pollard and an unbeaten 37 from Krunal Pandya saw them home.
It was almost a disastrous day for them after a disciplined bowling performance had kept a strong home team (featuring, among others, Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers) boundaryless for the final five overs of their innings. The win puts them at the head of the table, though, and they'll confident of victory against a struggling Gujarat side.
The fly in the ointment, though, remains the lack of runs for skipper Rohit Sharma. He's the third highest scorer in IPL history, but has managed only nine runs in four innings so far. He will fancy his chances of a decent innings against a struggling bowling attack, and his captaincy has been superb, but the team can't afford to keep carrying him if things don't improve soon.
Gujarat have started 2017 the way that they ended 2016, losing games - and this time they've been doing it heavily. In their first two matches they managed to take just one wicket, as they lost by ten wickets and then nine. There were signs of a turnabout in Friday's game, though, as they both took wickets and beat a strong Pune team convincingly.
Two things were crucial in that victory. The first was the last over hat-trick taken by Australian quick bowler Andrew Tye, on this IPL debut, which stopped Pune's attempt to accelerate to a competitive total in its tracks. The second was returning to their established opening partnership of Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum, after experimenting with various combinations (including England's Jason Roy) in other matches. Both batsmen made scores of over 40, meaning that Gujarat were well on their way to winning before they even lost a wicket.
Of course, they can't rely upon such heroics from Tye every time, and their batting will have to show the same sort of composure and resilience this time around - something which was markedly lacking in their earlier games
Venue and Conditions
This will be the second game at the Wankhede Stadium this season and, in the first, Mumbai were able to restrict Pune to well under the par score of around 175. They will hope to do the same today against a side who have struggled at times with the bat.
Unsurprisingly, Mumbai are hot favourites at just 1.834/5, with Gujarat way out at 2.186/5. Ordinarily the advice at this ground is to wait until after the toss and back the side batting second, but as the visitors have been in such poor away form and as Mumbai have won two-thirds of their IPL games at home, it is simply not worth the risk of backing anyone other than the Indians.
Top Mumbai Indians Batsman
While Parthiv Patel and Jos Buttler have been a productive opening partnership for Mumbai, it is the much less well known Nitish Rana who has been quietly accumulating runs and who is now (at the time of writing) the third top scorer in this year's IPL. His relative anonymity keeps his odds at a reasonable level and he'll be a decent bet at odds of around 4.47/2, as the money will be on the bigger names who bat around him.
Top Gujarat Lions Batsman
For some reason, Smith is always slightly longer odds in this market than the other big hitters in the line-up such as McCullum or Aaron Finch. Back him at odds of around 4.3100/30.
Richard's IPL P/L