IPL 9 has reached that squeaky bum, do-or-die kind of time, and this match represents a huge opportunity for both Gujarat Lions and the Kolkata Knight Riders to book their spot in the final qualifiers.
Match Betting & Game Review
It’s been a tough time of late for early pace-setters Gujarat Lions, and after witnessing record-breaking destruction at the hands of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, you could forgive their players for feeling a bit down in the dumps at the moment.
Happily for them, sandwiched in-between defeats to the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad was a morale boosting victory over their opponents on Thursday, KKR.
The Knight Riders have been on the rough end of an RCB blitz themselves recently, but with three wins from their last five – compared to Gujarat’s solitary triumph – they will head into this match in good spirits. A Duckworth Lewis based win in their penultimate showing over the Delhi Daredevils, which severely dented their playoff hopes, was a huge confidence booster.
After taking two hammerings on the road you might think that the Lions would be happy to return home to the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot, but not a bit of it. Suresh Raina’s side have also tasted defeat in their last pair of outings on home turf; a fortress it is not.
The concern for Raina will be that his much-vaunted batting line-up isn’t getting the job done at the moment; Aaron Finch apart. They have only scored more than 150 once in their last five matches, and anything less than that is unlikely to win you a game at this point in the competition.
As the tournament lurches towards its final throes, the pressure intensifies – and the Lions, despite having 14 points on the board – know that they must beat KKR here who have the same points tally but a far better Net Run Rate, which is looking increasingly likely to be the defining factor.
Betting Tip: With their varied bowling attack – albeit now without the injured Andre Russell, there is no worry about the Knight Riders having the tools to get the job done; so back them to win here at 1.95 with 888sport.
Top Batsmen Betting Picks
Without Russell it may be that KKR struggle to make an early breakthrough here (as they did in the reverse fixture a week or so ago when Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum put on 42 for the first wicket) before strangling the Lions innings courtesy of the spin trio of Sunil Narine, Shakib al Hasan and Piyush Chawla.
Betting Tip: So expect Gujarat to strike while the iron is hot in the early powerplay, and we’ve a hunch that either Smith or McCullum may make way for Finch (who’s mysterious middle playing position has been revealed)  at the top of the order given that both are out of form at the moment.
As such, we’ll happily jump on the 4.00 offered by 888sport on Finch to top score for his side.
Often a price will dictate the attractiveness of a bet, and while Gautam Gambhir has enjoyed another phenomenal IPL campaign he looks a little short at 3.50 here.
Betting Tip: Instead, take a look at Yusuf Pathan’s average of 90; that’s down to his unerring ability to bring it home for KKR. At a best price of 7.50 with Betfair, we have to get involved.
While the wheels have looked like coming off the Lions’ bowling attack in recent games, the veteran Praveen Kumar has held things together.
He has taken five wickets in his last three matches, with victims including Kohli, Shane Watson, Gambhir and Kane Williamson. At 5.00 with bet365 to be Gujarat’s top bowler here, we’re happy to invest.
In the News
 zeenews.india.com, REVEALED: Why Gujarat Lions are playing Aaron Finch in middle and not as opener after injury comeback in IPL 2016, 2016