Saturday will see the 2016 edition of the IPL host its first double-header. The first match of the day sees the winless Sunrisers Hyderabad take on the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket stadium.
That will be immediately followed by a tasty clash between the Mumbai Indians and the Gujarat Lions. As always, there’s plenty of value on offer; so why don’t we see if we can find you a few winners?
Sunrisers Hyderabad 11/10 | Draw 35/1 | Kolkata Knight Riders 7/10The Sunrisers got their 2016 campaign off to a disappointing start as they were comprehensively outplayed by the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Even with a mark in the loss column, David Warner and his charges shouldn’t feel too hard done by. AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli were absolutely magical as they powered to scores of 75 and 82 respectively; effectively putting the game out of the Sunrisers’ reach.
Having been set a target of 228, David Warner showed the Bangalore public just why he’s considered one of the most belligerent batsmen in world cricket as he smashed his way to a 25-ball 58. There were other decent contributions from Eoin Morgan, Ashish Reddy, and Karn Sharma, however, the home side fell short of their target by 45 runs.
They’ll feel more confident going into the next match with a Knight Riders squad that doesn’t boast nearly as much batting power as the Royal Challengers. That said, Shikhar Dhawan is going to need to need to find some form soon or he could well see his place taken by someone like Kane Williamson. I’d also like to see Mustafizur Rahman introduced into the attack a bit earlier – possibly as an opener – just to keep things quiet in the power play.
This clash will be the Knight Riders’ third of the campaign. They opened their account with a crushing win over the Delhi Daredevils before they were dispatched by the Mumbai Indians thanks to some excellent power hitting from Rohit Sharma and Jos Butter.
Like the Sunrisers, they shouldn’t take that defeat to heart, when Rohit gets going, there’s very little that can be done to rein him back in. They have one of the best all-round squads in the tournament, and unlike some of the other sides – I’m looking at the Delhi Daredevils here – they have a wonderful pool of reserve talent to call on. The likes of Jason Holder, Morne Morkel, Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine – who has been missing thus far following the death of his father – mean that if any one of the starting XI begin to slip; there are readymade replacement waiting in the wings.
I’m not sure whether I’d change the side going forward. Getting Narine into the side at the expense of Brad Hogg could be one option. Another would be to introduce Lynn into the starting XI at the expense of Hardik Pandya who has so far failed to live up to his billing with the bat.
Verdict: Kolkata Knight Riders at 7/10
As I’ve said throughout this season, I really like the look of the Knight Riders’ squad. They’re perfectly balanced and should – on paper at least – get through this game with minimal fuss. Back the men in purple at 7/10.
Mumbai Indians 8/10 | Draw 35/1 | Gujarat Lions 1/1The second match of the day is the most intriguing one of the competition so far. The reigning champions, the Mumbai Indians host the newly-formed Gujarat Lions. The Mumbai-based franchise got their campaign back on track last time out following an abysmal opening day defeat at the hands of the Rising Pune Supergiants. They bounced back superbly well though, smashing the Kolkata Knight Riders three days later at Eden Gardens. Rohit Sharma and Jos Buttler were the heroes on the day as they smashed 84* and 41 respectively as the Indians cantered home by five wickets with five balls to spare.
One suspects they’ll be quietly nervous heading into this game against a Lions side that can boast the likes of Aaron Finch, Dwayne Brave, Dwayne Smith Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina and Dale Steyn. The Knight Riders’ solid opening partnership of Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa will look to lay the groundwork for the likes of Andre Russell, Yusuf Pathan, Manish Pandey and Colin Munro to put the foot down in the second half of the innings.
In terms of changes to the side, I don’t think that any are necessary at the minute. Tim Southee and Jasprit Bumrah are two of the best seamers in world cricket at the moment while Harbajan Singh and Jagadeesha Suchith hold things together well spin.
The Gujarat Lions – thanks largely to a magnificent innings from Aaron Finch – got life in the IPL off to the best possible start as the ambled a pretty straight-forward victory over the Kings XI Punjab. Their five-wicket win puts them in a strong position after just one game
The Gujarat-based franchise and their fans will be hoping for a bit more from Brendon McCullum who disappointed a bit in the Lions’ inaugural game after he was bizarrely stumped without scoring. Finch, and Dinesh Karthik put in the sort of match-winning performances you expect of your senion players as they cruised past the Kings XI with 14 balls remaining.
I like the look of this squad and wouldn’t change anything looking ahead to Saturday’s clash. As the old adage goes: if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
Verdict: Gujarat Lions – Highest Opening Partnership at 9/10
This looks as if it could be a pretty tight affair and calling a winner is proving quite tricky. Instead, take the Gujarat Lions to claim the highest opening partnership. This bet’s a no-brainer really, with Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum set to be unleashed against the reigning champions.
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