Wednesday's eliminator reveals a tight market but Matt Harris feels that Hyderabad's prolific batters have the marginal edge...
"Narine isn’t really the most crucial wicket but SRH should seriously devise a plan for the pinch hitter."
Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kolkata Knight Riders
Wednesday, 15:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports
Defending Champions the Sunrisers left it late to claim the final play-off slot and when you look at some of their individual stats, it's perhaps surprising that their progression wasn't more comfortable. David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan occupy the top two places in the Orange Cap race while Bhuvneshwar Kumar leads the way in the wicket taking list, four places ahead of leg spinning teammate Rashid Khan.
There's been support through the side too, especially in the batting where Kane Williamson, Yuvraj Singh and Moises Henriques have all contributed. One issue is that SRH aren't travelling well with four of their five defeats coming away from their Hyderabad home.
That's not necessarily promising, even on neutral territory and if they are to win, much will depend on Warner and Dhawan with the bat while Kumar and Rashid are pivotal with ball in hand.
Kolkata Knight Riders
KKR seemed destined for the play-offs from a very early stage of the competition but for much of IPL 10, we didn't necessarily expect them to be in this eliminator. The good news, clearly, is that they have Chris Lynn back but is the partnership with Sunil Narine at the top of the order a wise one?
Supporters will point to the West Indian's fastest 50 from 15 balls and it's not the only time he's top scored but when he's out early, as he was in the recent defeat to Mumbai, it appears to put pressure on the remaining batters. It should just be a case of resuming with regular opener Gautam Gambhir coming in at first drop but somehow it doesn't work that way.
Bowling is slightly weaker with Chris Woakes out but this has been a productive all-round unit with wickets shared between a number of players. It seems odd to say this but on Wednesday, much could depend on Sunil Narine with the bat.
Venue and Conditions
The M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore hosts this game and it's traditionally a fast scoring surface that is notoriously hard to defend on. That's certainly been the case throughout most of IPL history but in 2017, the Royal Challengers were so poor that it's hard to know what a decent first innings total should be.
The average, over six completed matches, sits at just 148 while the six wins have been evenly split between sides setting the target and those chasing. Based on those numbers it should really be a case of win the toss and insert but the batting side will want to comfortably exceed that average score and target something around 175 as a minimum.
It's a tight market as you might expect with the Knight Riders leading the way at [1.96] and the Sunrisers just behind at [2.02]. It's close enough already and the head-to-heads aren't helping with one win apiece so where will this be won and lost?
I feel the toss will be crucial with the chasing side having the advantage. It's true that wins at Bangalore have been evenly split but you have to consider just how bad RCB were. Beyond that. Narine isn't really the most crucial wicket but SRH should seriously devise a plan for the pinch hitter and if they can get KKR three down early then that's an obvious advantage.
In a potential batting shoot out, Sunrisers have a slight edge so, while this isn't entirely confident, I'm looking to Warner and Dhawan to put Hyderabad out of sight.
Top Hyderabad Batsman
While David Warner tops the overall batting charts in 2017, he hasn't quite dominated the top batsmen bets as he did in 2016 - not in the matches I've tipped anyway. The skipper may look a little short therefore at [3.3] but I'm keeping faith.
Warner's character suggests he's an unlikely captain but he does take responsibility with the bat, particularly in the bigger games. Other options here include Dhawan at [4.0], Henriques at [4.3] and Yuvraj at [5.8].
In such a tight game this is a slight hedge against my other bets but favourites KKR could take this market irrespective of whether they win the match. Sunrisers look a tempter at [2.2] but Kolkata at [1.83] is the tip.
Matt Harris' IPL P/L