Rising Pune Supergiants will have their task cut out when they take on the surging Hyderabad Sunrisers at Pune on Saturday, April 22.
This clash will be crucial for the hosts in picking up pieces and making a dash to top four.
Supergiants started IPL 2017 with a bang by winning against Mumbai Indians. But three consecutive losses to Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Daredevils and Gujarat Lions put them on the back foot. They did stop the slide though, by winning against Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last outing.
But no one can deny the fact that Pune need to win this match against Sunrisers. Just four points from five matches makes you a candidate for the bottom half – which is where they currently are.
Batting looks sorted out for the moment with Rakesh Tripathi settling in his opening role but the lack of acceleration from MS Dhoni is a worry. Bowling won them the match on a placid track at Bangalore with the Indian seamers Jaydev Unadkat and Shardul Thakur impressing.
Hyderabad Sunrisers’ campaign is a unique case study. They looked like struggling to find a balance but are in the top-half of the table with eight points from six matches.
The Sunrisers started with two wins over Royal Challengers Bangalore and Gujarat Lions. But then the losses against Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders set them back. They picked the thread back with consecutive wins against Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils.
With Kane Williamson in the mix, there is a sense of stability to their batting. That leaves a bit of pressure on their lower middle-order which otherwise is struggling. Bowling is a lot more settled with Bhuvneswar Kumar and Rashid Khan in the mix.
Smith may stick to the same side unless he wants to slot Adam Zampa in place of Dan Christian. Shardul Thakur has done enough to cement his place while Unadkat deserves another chance.
Warner has one less worry thanks to Williamson’s quick feet. He now has to wonder if Mustafizur Rahman’s cutters will be useful on a tricky Pune pitch.
Last year saw the teams share the honours with Pune winning at Hyderabad in a rain-affected game thanks to Smith’s heroics. Then, Sunrisers survived a six-wicket haul by Zampa to win in Vizag.
Sunrisers should be hot favourites to win this, especially after their recent run. Odds of $1.75 (Unibet
) make them value. Pune are offered odds of $2.10 (Ladbrokes
) to win but that looks a highly risky punt.
The presence of Warner and Dhawan – not to mention Williamson – makes Hyderabad favourites to score more in the first six overs. Back the Sunrisers to score more in the power play at odds of $1.91 (Ladbrokes
Will Zampa get a run? Tough to see that but Imran Tahir could be fancying his luck to be the best bowler for the Supergiants.