Both teams need a win after indifferent starts to the tournament but the bookies install KKR as clear favourites for Saturday’s game.
It might be early days in this glorious competition, but Hyderabad Sunrisers won’t want to get cut off from the leading pack by suffering two consecutive defeats, so expect their star-studded line-up to bring their collective a-game on Saturday.
They will need it too, as their opponents Kolkata Knight Riders will want to build on the positives taken from their crushing nine-wicket victory over the Delhi Daredevils in their first outing, plus the solid batting display that could – and probably should – have won them the game against the Mumbai Indians on Wednesday.
The good news for KKR is that both facets of their game have already fired in IPL 9 – albeit not at the same time. But there is still plenty for Gautam Gambhir and his troops to be positive about.
Quite frankly, the Sunrisers didn’t stand a chance of chasing down the 227 set for them by the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their opening salvo, and even a spirited stand from skipper David Warner couldn’t get them within 40 runs of their target. A poor bowling display and a flimsy middle order suggests that they need to hit their straps sharpish.
So it is easy to make a case for KKR despite them having to travel to Hyderabad for this game – the loss of Yuvraj Singh to injury will be felt even more harshly by the Sunrisers on home soil. There may be a call up for New Zealand star Kane Williamson, but it may not be enough.
The Knight Riders were agonizingly close to finishing in the top four last year, and they will be desperate to go one better this time around. Available at 1.77 with 888sport, they look the smart investment to kickstart their campaign here.
While Gambhir led from the front last time out it is Manish Pandey who really catches the eye coming in at number three for KKR. He continued his fine form for club and country against the Mumbai Indians, crushing 52 off just 29 deliveries at a strike rate of 179. Pandey is capable of going big or being the rock at the other end as the likes of Andre Russell and Yusuf Pathan deliver their own unique brand of pyrotechnics. Available at 5.00 with Betfair, he could mop up should Uthappa and/or Gambhir fall prey to Mustafizur Rahman and co.
The Sunrisers batsmen, meanwhile, will be licking their lips in anticipation of facing a KKR bowling unit of whom four of the five went for more than 9.00 runs per over last time out. This is Hyderabad, so David Warner has to be our top batsmen pick at 3.25 with Betfair. He was IPL 8’s leading run-getter and got off to a fine start this year with a half century against RCB.
He’s been mentioned in dispatches already but there is a lot to like about young
Mustafizur Rahman, the 20-year-old Bangladeshi seamer. He took nine wickets in the recent T20 World Cup, and with both Uthappa and Russell perishing to the left-handed Mitchell McClenaghan at Eden Gardens last time out, Mustafizur will fancy his chances of unleashing that bag of magic tricks he possesses and causing havoc. At 3.75 to be top Sunrisers bowler with bet365, he is surely the NAP of the day.
So while it would be fair to surmise that KKR won’t have it all their own way, their stronger batting depth should ultimately pay dividends on a notoriously high scoring ground. It should be a fun encounter to watch, and siding with the Knight Riders at 1.77 looks to be the value punt.