After successfully defending low totals in their last two games, Matt Harris expects an improved performance from Sunrisers' top order against Rajasthan on Sunday...
"Sunrisers Hyderabad are one of three teams on ten points at the top and are four points clear of the chasing pack but their two most recent wins have been less than convincing."
Rajasthan Royals v Sunrisers Hyderabad
Sunday, 11:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
While three wins and three defeats from six shows mixed form coming into Sunday's game, the Royals were boosted by the introduction of Jofra Archer in their most recent win over Mumbai. Figures of 3/23 were crucial in a tight victory and Rajasthan suddenly have greater depth in their batting with Archer included and Krishnappa Gowtham smashing 33 from just 11 balls to get them over the line.
Ajinkya Rahane needs more from his overseas picks and Heinrich Klassen could make way for D'Arcy Short while Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes need better contributions if the Royals are to keep in touch with the teams pulling away at the top.
Sunrisers Hyderabad are one of three teams on ten points at the top and are four points clear of the chasing pack but their two most recent wins have been less than convincing. There has been assistance from a poor surface at times but somehow the bowling attack has defended 118 and 132 to join Chennai and Kings XI at the top.
Bowling has obviously been crucial but those numbers should raise alarms over a batting line up that relies greatly on Kane Williamson and Shikhar Dhawan. The selectors somehow keep ignoring my suggestion to bring in Alex Hales and while losing Mohammad Nabi would upset Hyderabad's preference for a six-man attack, it should be considered more seriously as the side won't defend sub-par totals indefinitely.
Three IPL 11 games at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur have so far produced fairly consistent first innings scores of 153, 160 and 167 so we should look forward to even contests between bat and ball on this surface.
Two of those matches have gone with the chasing side and the exception saw Rajasthan beat Delhi in a rain affected match so it is likely to be a case of win toss, bat second and look to restrict the batting side to somewhere around that average of 160.
Four points separate these sides and after a stronger start to the tournament, Sunrisers Hyderabad are obvious favourites at [1.76]. Rajasthan are available at [2.26] right now and there could be some external factors in their favour.
If you feel there is any home advantage in T20 cricket that's a plus for Rahane's side and a quirk of the schedule means that the Royals have been resting up for a full week while Hyderabad have played two intense games in that same period.
It's a tough call and I'm personally going to wait for the toss before committing my own money but my first reaction was to back Sunrisers and it's never advisable to change your mind.
I've mentioned Sunrisers' suspect batting but I expect their key men to return to form in this game and that's one of the reasons why I'm backing the away side. After a brief injury break, Shikhar Dhawan has returned to make scores of five and 11 but the left hander made a match winning 78 in the reverse fixture and he should be due to return to that level on Sunday.
Kane Williamson has also been profitable in this tournament and he is a strong option at 11/4 while Manish Pandey at 7/2 and Wriddhiman Saha at 15/2 can also be considered. Alex Hales is available at 7/2 if the selectors respond to my calls to include him but Dhawan is the recommended bet at 11/4 and I'm looking for him to provide another match winning knock.
The Exchange can't currently split the teams in the Most Sixes betting with both the Sunrisers and Rajasthan available at the same [2.0] so there is some reasonable value in this market as long as we make the right call.
The pick, for me, are the Royals as they have far greater Power Hitting depth with Stokes, Buttler, Archer and even Gowtham in the late overs. An in-form D'Arcy Short could help to tip this even further but with or without the Australian, Rajasthan just seem a far more logical selection.
It's a slight hedge as I'm a little torn on the overall result but the home side can deliver in this market even if they lose the game.
Matt Harris' IPL 2018 P/L