Hyderabad can start the season in style against the much-maligned Royal Challengers with Jonny Bairstow continuing his rich vein of form, says Jamie Pacheco...
"I think it’s normally in the spirit of things to try to justify backing an underdog in the right circumstances or else look at other markets. But these aren’t normal circumstances. This is one of the best-balanced teams in the IPL, potential winners no less, priced up at 4/51.82, up against a side who could easily finish rock bottom."
Hyderabad Sunrisers v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Monday 21 September, 15:00
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Same old Sunrisers
The Sunrisers are an interesting outfit in that you could say the same things about them year-on-year.
That they have in David Warner and Jonny Bairstow and David Warner arguably the strongest opening partnership of any in the IPL. That Mohammad Nabi gives the side great balance and that Rashid Khan is perhaps the most feared, if not the best, bowler in the IPL.
So four high-class players filling the overseas spots, as you'd expect, with strong alternatives 'on the bench' as well. Kane Williamson is perhaps a bit slow in his scoring but then again, that might be exactly what's required in the UAE, while Mitch Marsh is a genuine all-rounder. Both are likely to feature at some stage.
They also have some good local players in Khaleel Ahmed (a T20 career strike rate of 14 is excellent), a sometime India limited-overs all-rounder in Vijay Shankar and then of course there's Bhuvi Kumar, although he's gone off the boil a bit over the last year or so and may not be able to swing the ball so much in the UAE.
Given that bowling line-up is so strong, you'd think they'd be equally comfortable defending as chasing but that's not the case. They win just 35.7% of the time batting first, compared to 73% of the time batting second. So they'll chase whenever they can but will have to improve on that record when batting first.
Possible XI: Warner, Bairstow (wk), Garg, Pandey, Vijay Shankar, Nabi, Abhishek Sharma, Rashid, Bhuvneshwar, Kaul, Khaleel
Do Bangalore know what their best side is?
Bangalore could really struggle once again. True that they couldn't have known that this edition of the IPL would be played in the UAE but they should have strengthened in the spin bowling department anyway because at the moment they're pretty much solely relying on Yuzvendra Chahal and then Washington Sundar, who hasn't quite fulfilled his promise yet, as 'local' spinning options.
They'll probably have to make a straight call between spinners Adam Zampa and Moeen Ali for the fourth overseas spot; Zampa is the better bowler and was very impressive in the limited-overs series against England this month though Ali is obviously a far superior batsman.
Aaron Finch and AB de Villiers are shoo-ins for the first two overseas spots and add Virat Kohli to the equation and you have a pretty impressive top order. But then again, that's alway7s been te case with them. There's been some talk of Kohli opening but I can't see it happening. So it's either likely to be veteran Parthiv Patel up top with Finch or they could really go for broke and play Josh Philippe alongside Finch.
But even Bangalore may realise that's too much batting and not enough bowling so they're likely to pick one of Chris Morris or Dale Steyn. Again, Steyn is the better bowler but Morris gives them a better option with the bat.
It says a lot about Bangalore that if we can't figure out who's likely to play then they're probably not sure, either.
Possible XI Finch, Parthiv (wk), Kohli (capt), de Villiers, Moeen, Dube, Morris, Sundar, Chahal, Umesh, Siraj
Justified favourites to carry our money
The Sunrisers are 8-6 up in matches between two and the only surprising thing is that their superiority in this fixture isn't greater. David Warner's side are one of the great examples of a team playing smart cricket while Bangalore only seem to know how to play one way: hoping they can restrict the opposition to as few as possible and rely on their star-studded batting line-up to get them home. But even then, they've only won 46% of the time batting second.
I think it's normally in the spirit of things to try to justify backing an underdog in the right circumstances or else look at other markets. But these aren't normal circumstances. This is one of the best-balanced teams in the IPL, potential winners no less, priced up at 4/51.82, up against a side who could easily finish rock bottom.
Of course, we'd rather that Hyderabad chased but then again with Bangalore's win percentage chasing at less than 50%, we won't be too worried even if Warner and co do have to defend.
Here's Jonny (at 3/1)
It might be a straight shootout between Warner and Jonny Bairstow for top Sunrisers' batsman hours for much of the season.
As a three-time Orange Cap winner, you'd think Warner might score more over the course of the season but we're going with Bairstow here for two reasons. One: Bairstow is fresh from scores of 55 (third T20I against Australia) and 84, 0 and 112 in the ODIs, so clearly in great nick, while Warner was somewhat quiet, passing 50 just once in five attempts against England.
Two: price. The odds on Warner look about right at 23/10 but 3/1 looks seriously big about a player of Bairstow's quality.
Zampa in fine form
Chahal is understandably favourite to be Bangalore top bowler at 5/2 but I'd rather go with Adam Zampa at 10/3. He took 10 wickets in three ODIs against England and looks to be at an age where he seems to have really mastered the art of leg spin. If he can bowl like that at Old Trafford, he'll surely enjoy himself in Dubai.
Of course, there's a possibility that he might not play at all but no harm done if that's the case: you just get your money back.
2pts Back Hyderabad to win @ 4/51.82
Back Jonny Bairstow to be Hyderabad Top Batsman @ 3/1
Back Adam Zampa to be Bangalore Top Bowler @ 10/3