While the Mumbai Indians will be eager to get a win on the board, James Buttler thinks Sunrisers Hyderabad are the team to beat at IPL 2018...
"In Kane Williamson they have runs and a level-headed skipper that won't flap in tough moments. For that reason I think the [1.95] on an SRH win is the way to go in this game and I also like the 5/1 on them to win this IPL."
Sunrisers Hyderabad v Mumbai Indians
Thursday April 12, 15:30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Are Sunrisers really missing David Warner?
Sunrisers Hyderabad started their IPL11 campaign with a resounding win over Rajasthan Royals. After the early loss of Wriddhiman Saha, the power of Shikhar Dhawan, 78 from 57 balls, and the sublime skill of their Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson, 36 from 35, saw SRH chase down the Royals' 125 for nine with 25 balls to spare. David Warner who?
In truth, Warner's omission from the tournament after Sandpapergate, does heap pressure on the top order, but early signs are that Dhawan in particular is relishing that challenge. The mutterings around cricket suggest that Warner's presence in the squad environment may not be such a huge loss.
SRH boast a bowling attack that has everything. Bhuvneshwar Kumar's wicket tally in the IPL in 2017 was 26 and he has been Mr Consistent as the two-time defending Purple Cap winner. Big Aussie Billy Stanlake took 1-29 in his four overs and is always a threat. And then you have experienced slow-left-arm of Shakib-Al-Hasan combining with 19-year-old Afghan superstar leggie Rashid Khan. That's a bowling attack that can win this tournament.
Mumbai Indians need Rohit to fire
The Indians lost their tournament opener against the returning Chennai Super Kings in a thriller that got the tournament off to a storming start. It was no surprise to see the much loved CSK franchise, returning from their two-year ban, gain a fairy-tale comeback win, but the Mumbai outfit now need to get their own show on the road.
Hardik Pandya took 3-43 and scored an unbeaten 22 in the defeat, while his brother Krunal scored a 22-ball 41. Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav both passed 40, but didn't kick on. 20-year-old Mayank Markande showed his promise by grabbing three wickets with his leg-spin.
So, although they lost, there were positives, but Mumbai need their openers, skipper Rohit Sharma and Evin Lewis, to fire if they are going to make waves in this tournament.
In ten previous encounters the bragging rights are level with five wins apiece since Sunrisers joined the IPL in 2013. Last season the Sunrisers took the corresponding fixture by seven wickets and completed the double with an 85-run win in Mumbai. In the five games played at the Sunrisers' Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium the Sunrisers hold a 3-2 advantage.
Many believe that the loss of suspended David Warner, last season's captain, will hit SRH hard. And yes, the tournament high of 641 runs with a highest score of 126 will be hard to replace. But I think Warner's absence will give more responsibility to others that may have relied too much on the Australian in the past. In Kane Williamson they have runs and a level-headed skipper that won't flap in tough moments. For that reason I think the [1.95] on an SRH win is the way to go in this game and I also like the 5/1 on them to win this IPL.
A note of caution. Despite the fact that IPL 2018 is being dominated by matches won by the team batting second, six of the eight matches played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium last season were won by the team batting first. It's a win the toss and bat wicket!
Shikar Dhawan looked in sublime nick in the first match. One wristy lofted cut for six was top-class and at 12/5 he will attract plenty of money. But my sensible bet in most SRH matches will be Kane Williamson at 10/3. The New Zealander is one of the top batsman in the world game and can play any match situation. I was asked recently who I would have bat for my life. Kane was the answer and therefore, in my eyes, that makes him a great bet in any format. Williamson is relishing the chance to step out of Warner's IPL shadow after watching most of last season's from the dugout. A half-stakes tickle on Shakib Al Hasan at 13/2 could also bear fruit.
Captain Rohit Sharma is too good to ignore here and after a failure in the opening game the opener will be keen to make the price of 11/4 to look like great value. Evin Lewis is exciting at 3/1, but my half-stakes nibble goes to my favourite Caribbean tree trunk, Kieron Pollard at 12/1. He will have seen fellow West Indian Andre Russell's fireworks a couple of days ago and is no stranger to hitting quickfire cameos himself.
Always a play in any T20, the pressure of the IPL, the raucous crowds and the frantic dash for a few extra runs can always lead to a mix-up or two. Add the standard of fielding these days and the price of 7/4 is worth playing in every game.
James Buttler at IPL 2018
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AT IPL 2017
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