Sunday throws up yet another cracking IPL double-header with the Sunrisers, the Lions, the Knight Riders and the Indians all in action.Sunday sees the second double-header of IPL 10 coming our way as the reigning champions, the Sunrisers Hyderabad welcome the Gujarat Lions to the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
That will be immediately followed by a tasty looking clash between the Mumbai Indians and the Kolkata Knight Riders.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS WAS WRITTEN PRIOR TO FRIDAY'S MATCH.
SRH v GL | Sunday, 9 April 2017 | Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad | 12:30
To Win Match
Sunrisers Hyderabad 83/100 | Tie 35/1 | Gujarat Lions 21/20
The reigning champions want to build on the momentum gained during Wednesday's victory over the Royal Challengers Bangalore, while the Gujarat Lions have an impressive debut season to fittingly follow.
The Sunrisers played like genuine repeat title contenders in the opening match of the tournament - and won't likely change the XI that easily beat Bangalore earlier this week. The temptation to choose Bangladesh fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman ahead of Ashish Nehra - and replace Australian Ben Cutting with a domestic Indian player - should be avoided.
Hyderabad will again benefit from home ground advantage - and will know that seam, in conjunction with spin, is important. The two complemented each other superbly against the Royal Challengers, with Afghanistan's Rashid Khan particularly effective in tandem alongside Cutting. Captain David Warner might even deploy Khan inside the opening six-over Powerplay.
Lined with the big-hitting prowess of New Zealander Brendon McCullum, West Indian Dwayne Smith, Indian Suresh Raina and Australian Aaron Finch, the Lions - unlike some franchises - have wisely balanced their bowling ranks accordingly. Heavily invested in their homegrown talent, Gujarat will trust seamers Manpreet Gony, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar an Dhawal Kulkarni repay the faith.
Having topped the standings in the inaugural season, the Lions later lost two Qualifiers. Incidentally, one defeat was to the Sunrisers Hyderabad. That fixture brought a swashbuckling 93 not out from Warner, who needs to be combated with more spin bowling this time. Left-arm slow bowlers Shivil Kaushik and Shivil Kaushik, indeed, have a challenging task ahead.
Verdict: Sunrisers Hyderabad 83/100
Victorious in the tournament opener and triumphant over Sunday's opposition last season, the Sunrisers - at their home ground - won't be deterred, particularly if McCullum is removed early and Warner repeats his 2016 heroics.
Value bet: Sunrisers Hyderabad to bat first, 17/20
The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium is very much a bowl-first venue in Twenty20 cricket, but Raina or Warner will likely buck the trend to later put the pressure on the team chasing a sizeable target.
MI vs KKR | Sunday, 9 April 2017 | Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai | 16:30
To Win Match
Mumbai Indians 72/100 | Tie 35/1 | Kolkata Knight Riders 23/20
Mumbai's 2017 campaign started poorly against the Rising Pune Supergiant - and rectification is needed, quickly. The Knight Riders, meanwhile, continue a tough quest for a third IPL title.
The 2013 and 2015 champions were handed an alarming wake-up call against Pune, who severely exposed a batting order shy of international talent - and a bowling department evidently hindered by the expense of the injury-prone Mitchell McClenaghan. The New Zealand seamer doesn't seem to have fully recovered from a pelvis injury - and should be sidelined for Sunday's clash, at least.
Mumbai need to find what galvanised them through several taxing seasons - and properly unearth the direction forged by captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Mahela Jayawardene. Batting West Indian Kieron Pollard higher than seventh position is key to this, while the addition of more specialist spin to the team is also important.
The lessons learnt in Friday's fixture against the Gujarat Lions must be implemented against the Mumbai unit. One such tactic needs to be the effective management of Rovman Powell. With comparisons to countryman Andre Russell growing old, Powell needs to find the balance between potential superstardom and genuine substance to his batting and bowling.
Kolkata's record away from Eden Gardens does not make for promising reading and, with Mumbai traditionally very strong at the Wankhede Stadium, the Knight Riders need to find something extra from somewhere. That inspiration is due from captain Gautam Gambhir, who scored two fine half-centuries against Mumbai last season - but was on the wrong end of the result on both occasions.
Verdict: Mumbai Indians, 72/100
Back at their veritable fortress, the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai are set to pick up where they left off against Kolkata last year with a third consecutive victory.