We're very rapidly approaching the business end of this year's IPL campaign with a number of teams still competing for those all-important play-off spots. Sunday will see yet another double-header come your way with the Mumbai Indians hosting the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
That will be immediately followed by a top of the table clash between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Gujarat Lions. It's set-up quite nicely and there's plenty of value to be found! Let's get to it!
To Win Match
Mumbai 7/10 | Tie 35/1 | Hyderabad 11/10
We kick off Sunday’s double header with a game that may well go a long way in determining which team makes the play-offs at the end of the season. Mumbai and Hyderabad, both on 10 points, have been inconsistent throughout the tournament but have won enough games to see them both within touching distance of that fourth qualifying spot. Hyderabad will be looking to take advantage of a Mumbai Indians side who have recently been forced into changing venues due to an ongoing drought in India.
Mumbai have had a bit of a break in that their last game was a week ago against Pune. They won that game quite comfortably and it was, once again, Rohit Sharma who got them over the line with a blistering innings of 85. He is one of the best limited overs openers in world cricket these days and has scored 383 runs from his nine innings in this IPL season at an average of just under 64. Backing him up well this season has been Ambati Rayudu, who has managed 271 runs from eight innings and Parthiv Patel, the other opener, who has scored 176 runs in eight innings. Backing these guys up is a strong middle order which includes Jos Buttler and Kieron Pollard who have shown their capabilities with some extraordinary middle order hitting late on in the innings. Worth noting is that Mumbai’s top five batsmen all have a strike rate above 120.
Bowling wise, Mumbai have all bases covered. Mitchell McClenaghan and JJ Bumrah both feature amongst the top five tournament wicket takers with Tim Southee and Harbajhan Singh providing able back up. They haven’t had to chase a score above 190 this season and this comes down to their bowlers bowling with good control and keeping the batsmen contained. All but one of Mumbai’s victories have come batting second, so their batsmen really have a lot to thank the bowlers for.
Hyderabad have become reliant on two batsmen. David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan. More so Warner who has scored 410 runs this season, bettered only by Virat Kohli, at an average of 68. Dhawan has managed just over half of that by scoring 228 runs at 46. Their next highest runscorer is Eoin Morgan with 109 runs which goes a long way in describing just how important Hyderabad’s opening batsmen are to their cause. When Warner scores big, Hyderabad usually win and he will be looking to do that against Mumbai.
In the bowling department, Hyderabad have a good blend of experience and youth. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been their best bowler this season with 12 wickets at an average of 21 and economy of eight. Although, one can argue that Mustafizur Rahman’s contributions have been more important in that he is their most economical bowler, going at just over six runs to the over, while taking 10 wickets at an average under 19. These two have been well backed up by BB Sran who has chipped in with valuable contributions. They will need to contain Warner, who scored 90 the last time these two sides met.
Verdict : HYDERABAD TO WIN AT 5/4
This game is going to be a tight one but I can just about see Hyderabad edging it. They have won their last two games against Gujarat and Bangalore. Mumbai have won their last 3 games but it has been a week since they last played and so they may potentially be a bit rusty. My predictions have not been fantastic this season but I’ll be having some of the 5/4 on Hyderabad here.
To Win Match
Kolkata 7/10| Tie 35/1| Gujarat 23/20
The second game of the afternoon sees the top two teams taking each other on. Rather surprisingly, they have not met each other yet in the tournament and so this will be the first time ever that these sides meet. Kolkata have won their last two games while Gujarat have lost their last three games. Can Gujarat win here and topple Kolkata at the top of the table or will Kolkata reaffirm their position as current tournament favourites?
Not much more can be said about the form of Kolkata’s opening batsmen. Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa have both scored over 300 runs each this season and have really been able to set some good platforms for the likes of Yusuf Pathan, Andre Russell and Manish Pandey to launch into the opposition bowling attacks. Such has been the dominance of Gambhir and Uthappa that they have averaged 51 runs together throughout the tournament. Yusuf Pathan has also been able to inject some venom into the batting with his massive middle order hitting. His strike rate so far is 163 and he averages 82. Gambhir and Uthappa may not be as powerful or strike at a huge rate but what they do well is enable Pathan and Russell to play with freedom in the later overs.
Kolkata have one of the most consistent bowling attacks in the tournament and have only twice conceded over 180. Andre Russell has been the best bowler this season with his 13 wickets coming at an average of 17 and an economy of just under eight. Supporting Russell is Morne Morkel who has bowled with great pace and whose extra height and bounce may trouble the Gujarat openers. Umesh Yadav has also bowled well, taking 10 wickets this season at an average of just under 22. Sunil Narine has also bowled very economically and does not seem to have lost much of his mystery, despite a remodelled bowling action.
Gujarat got off to a great start in the tournament, winning six of their first seven games before losing their last three games in a row. This may be down to the fact that over the last few games their top order has been shuffled around a bit. Dwayne Smith, Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum, have found themselves competing for the same spots while Suresh Raina usually bats at first drop. This has meant that Finch has had to drop down to number 4 in the batting order. That means that if there is a collapse at the top, Finch and Raina have to consolidate, which is not their natural game. This is something that has happened in the last three games so Gujarat may want to find the right combination at the top of the order if they are to get back to winning ways.
On the bowling front, Dwayne Bravo has led the attack very well, taking 12 wickets at an average of 25. He has become one of the best T20 bowlers in the world and his experience and death bowling will be crucial if Gujarat are to win this game and return to the top of the table. Dhawal Kulkarni has taken 9 wickets at a good economy and has supported Bravo well, while Jadeja has chipped in here and there. Bowlers like Shivil Kaushik, who is a carbon copy of Paul Adams, provides some mystery to the bowling attack and he has started his career well and will be looking to carry on against the tournament’s top side.
VERDICT : Kolkata to win at 7/10
Gujarat have some serious issues in the batting department and I can’t see them sorting themselves out in this game against the likes of Russell, Yadav, Morkel and Narine. The bowlers will be looking to do the job for Kolkata while their openers will be looking to get another good start for that powerful middle order to carry on smashing the ball out the park. Kolkata to win this one for me.