Match 34 – 8:00pm local time on Saturday, May 2, 2015 at Ravij Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad
Sunrisers Hyderabad – $2.62 at Crownbet.com.au
Chennai Super Kings – $1.56 at Sportsbet.com.au
Chennai Super Kings head to Uppal on Saturday with the express aim of extending their lead atop the 2015 Indian Premier League standings.
They could have done so on Thursday night, but Robin Uthappa (80*), Andre Russell (55*) and the superb Brad Hogg (4/29) had other ideas as Kolkata Knight Riders claimed a crucial seven-wicket win.
Despite a solid first-up display from young spinner Pawan Negi, the Super Kings clearly missed the injured Ravichandran Ashwin on a slow Eden Gardens pitch which offered plenty for Hogg’s leg breaks and googlies.
Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will certainly want more enterprise from Ravindra Jadeja, whose flat, uninventive left-armers were swatted away with ease by Uthappa and Co.
There’s nothing much to panic about, though. The CSK batting runs extremely deep – Michael Hussey can’t even get a look in – while Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma, Dwayne Bravo, Ishwar Pandey and Ronit More provide ample seam-bowling options.
Although neither managed a wicket against KKR, Nehra and Bravo have been especially impressive this season. Both rank among the top five bowlers of IPL 2015, each having taken two or more scalps on no less than four occasions.
Head coach Stephen Fleming would love a bit more of that magic as the Super Kings prepare for the human juggernaut that is David Warner.
With four 50s in seven innings and an IPL strike rate of 153.88, the Sunrisers Hyderabad captain is the undeniable highlight in what has been an inconsistent campaign so far.
Three wins from seven attempts leaves Sunrisers outside the playoff zone at present, and with exactly half as many points as their upcoming opponents (albeit with a game in hand).
The bulk of their woes can be blamed on a lack of balance in the middle order – in particular, a worrying absence of big hitters.
In the recent loss to Mumbai Indians, for instance, the trio of Ravi Bopara, Lokesh Rahul and Naman Ojha managed just two boundaries between them off 63 deliveries.
The introduction of Moises Henriques and Hanuma Vihari hasn’t quite remedied that issue as yet, meaning one of Eoin Morgan and Kane Williamson could return to the fold this weekend.
There’s a different kind of balancing act going on in the bowling department as the Hyderabad selectors continue to debate whether they can squeeze Trent Boult and Dale Steyn into the same team.
The pair have played together just once this season, in the defeat to Mumbai, as the overseas player cap means fielding both (alongside Warner) leaves only one spot for any of Bopara, Henriques, Morgan, or Williamson.
With excellent support from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Praveen Kumar, however, Sunrisers won’t lose a whole lot by picking one or the other – most likely Boult, who has eight wickets in five IPL appearances this year.
Seemingly out of the picture altogether is Ishant Sharma, who conceded 46 runs in three overs when these two teams met in the first round of fixtures.
Chennai won that game by 45 runs, courtesy of a breathtaking century from Brendon McCullum – the only individual 100 of the tournament so far.
Possible team selections
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (C), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Ravi Bopara, Naman Ojha, Moises Henriques, Ashish Reddy, Karn Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Trent Boult
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (C), Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Pawan Negi, Mohit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Ashish Nehra
Result – CSK to win ($1.56 at Crownbet)
Highest opening partnership – Sunrisers ($2.00 at Bet365)
Highest first six overs – Sunrisers ($2.10 at Bet365.com)
Dhoni and his Super Kings will have learned plenty from Thursday’s loss in Kolkata, so expect them to bounce back and claim the two points here. Both teams are extremely strong at the top of the order, however; and while we hesitate to bet against McCullum and Smith, the equally capable Warner and Dhawan are offering good value at $2+ for highest opening stand and best six-over score.
IPL value bets for best batsman
Sunrisers – David Warner ($3.00 at Bet365)
Alongside Rajasthan Royals’ Ajinkya Rahane, the Australian basher is the form batsman in the Indian Premier League. The only other really promising candidate for Sunrisers is Dhawan ($3.75), who has provided very solid support for his skipper at the top of the order.
Super Kings – Brendon McCullum ($3.40 at Bet365)
The CSK top scorer betting market is a much more competitive one, but McCullum is the standout option. It’s almost impossible not to back the Kiwi after what he did to Hyderabad last time.
More 2015 Indian Premier League matches this week
Sunday, May 3
Kings XI Punjab vs Mumbai Indians
Rajasthan Royals vs Delhi Daredevils