Ed Hawkins previews the contest from Deccan on Thursday as Kings look to cement their position at the top of the pile...
"Aaron Finch and Yuvraj Singh are having a terrible time while David Miller and Marcus Stoinis are taking it in turns to exemplify mediocrity"
Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kings XI Punjab
Thursday 26 April 15:30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Sunrisers bowlers back to best
At the halfway stage of their contest against Mumbai Indians on Tuesday, Sunrisers were staring three consecutive defeats in the face. Their batting had been razed and they had posted only 118.
But, somehow, they managed to win. Mumbai could scrabble to only 87 in reply in what was one of the more extraordinary matches in IPL's admittedly bonkers history. It was the second-lowest total defended.
Rashid Khan was the architect. He bowled 16 dots - including a maiden in the 17th over - and took two wickets for 11 as Mumbai's season went from bad to worse. The implosion was particularly surprising considering Sunrisers were without Bhuv Kumar and Billy Stanlake, who has returned to Australia with a fractured finger.
Kumar should return for this match. And boy do Sunrisers need him. It would seem they are going to have to restrict teams to 170 and no more if bowling first judging by their lack of acceleration with the bat in defeats by Kings and Chennai Super Kings.
Resting Gayle nearly costs Kings
Kings maintained their excellent start with victory over Delhi Daredevils last time out. But it was surely more by luck than judgement.
They made a baffling decision with the 'resting' of Chris Gayle. The same Gayle who is a averaging 229, striking at 171 and had smashed 62 not out and 104 not out in his two previous innings.
It is arguable that Kings have only managed to win five from six because of the form of Gayle and KL Rahul, openers who are laying waste to attacks. That's because their middle-order is non-existent. Aaron Finch and Yuvraj Singh are having a terrible time while David Miller and Marcus Stoinis are taking it in turns to exemplify mediocrity.
Against Delhi the absence of Gayle almost cost them. They could only muster 143. A combination of Delhi panic and ineptitude kept Kings in the game, though, and in a close finish Ravi Ashwin and AJ Tye have cool heads with the ball.
History does not suggest runs
Sunrisers' defeat by Chennai Super Kings at Deccan was an outlier in terms of their bowling being savaged. CSK posted 182 when the previous scores had been 125-147-128-138-148-209-191-159-135. Indeed, it busted the average by 22 runs. The weight of evidence suggests it would be shrewd to go low again on innings runs.
Take on leaders
The last time these two played each other Kings managed a win by 15. They had batted superbly, blasting 193. But in reply Sunrisers just never got going and lost only four wickets to keep their net run rate respectable.
It exposed Sunrisers' weakness. They don't score quickly enough and even though the likes of Kane Williamson and Shikhar Dhawan are hugely respected, they are in desperate need of middle- and lower-order blitzers.
That is probably the main reason why they are considered outsiders here at [2.14]. Kings are [1.83]. Still, Kings can't hold a candle to the Sunrisers' bowling attack when it's in form and we always come back to ball beating bat. For that reason we're happy to take on Kings, even if they are top, because they might be overly-reliant on their openers.
Saha might be worth a punt
Dhawan has been struggling with a niggle and there is a possibility that he could have aggravated things against Mumbai. It's reason enough to swerve him for top Sunrisers runscorer honours at 12/5 with the Betfair Sportsbook. Williamson doesn't float the boat at 13/5, either. Wriddi Saha might be an option, though, at 8/1 because SRH often promote him up the order. Manish Pandey's unbeaten 57 in the previous clash wasn't quick enough at a strike rate of 137 but he still copped on this market. He is 9/2 for a repeat.
Gayle expected to dominate
Gayle's century came against Sunrisers so he will be well-backed for top Kings runscorer honours here. He gets a 2/1 quote from the Sportsbook. He is 13/2 for man of the match and 10/11 for 27.5 runs or more. Of the two we'd side with Rahul for honours because he's just as dangerous and the 13/5 makes more appeal. Rahul is 20/23 for 2.5 runs or more.
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. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back Sunrisers to win at [2.14]