Jonny and Bhuvi to go well


Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kolkata Knight Riders
Sunday April 15.00
TV: live on Sky Sports Cricket

Bowling attack hot, Warner cold

There’s a lot to like about the Sunrisers Hyderabad, as usual.

They have statistically the best bowling attack in the competition and though that has a lot do with the brilliance of Rashid Khan, it’s not just him.

Bhuvi Kumar was probably the most influential bowler on show in the white ball Series between India and England and if he can stay fit (which he didn’t last year), he could easily take more wickets than Khan and just about everyone else in the competition. Sandeep and Natarajan are reliable campaigners as well.

But it’s not all rosy. The most important man at the franchise is David Warner and there are plenty of questions marks around him. There’s his fitness after rushing back from an injury, there’s the fact he hasn’t been great with the bat for the past year and then there’s the accusation that what he has in hunger and competitiveness as a captain, he lacks in empathy and tact, sometimes towards his own team-mates.

A likely scenario is that he’ll play and lead from the start but maybe somewhere down the line they’ll parachute in the reliable hand and cool head of Kane Williamson. Whether that’s solely as a batsman or also as skipper remains to be seen.

They will have remembered the all-round contributions of Jason Holder late last season so he should get a game. That means the likes of Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Jason Roy may have to wait for their chance.

Jason Holder.jpg

Likely XI: Warner, Saha, Bairstow, Pandey, Samad, Shankar, Holder, Rashid, Kumar, Natarajan, Sandeep

Bowling attack hot, Warner cold

A tough team to decipher. They really should be better for having Eoin Morgan in charge rather than the ineffective and uninspired Dinesh Karthik. The England skipper took over halfway through last season but it should be noted that results didn’t necessarily improve under him.

However, Morgan’s appointment may cause a problem in its own right. He had a poor Series against India in both the T20Is and ODIs with the bat. What if he’s badly out of form in a side where (like most others, admittedly) the hard bit is knowing which four overseas players to include?

Morgan will have to play and it’s too dangerous to leave out Andre Russell and Sunil Narine while they’re fit. Pat Cummins, a world-class fast bowler and handy lower-order batsman will surely get the fourth spot but just look at how they’ll have to leave out.

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Lockie Ferguson, the quickest bowler in the side by some distance. Shakib-Al Hasan, right up there with the four or five top all-rounders in the game in any format. Ben Cutting, the big-hitting all-rounder who had a strong season with the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash.

Veteran Harbhajan Singh joins the ranks but may not play from the start.


Possible XI
: Gill, Rana, Tripathi, Morgan, Russell, Karthik, Cummins, Narine, Nagarkoti, Mavi, Varun.

KKR ahead on the stats

SRH are marginal favourites on the Exchange but there really isn’t much in at all between the two.

Played in Chennai, spin will be all-important here so it’s fitting that we have two of the better sides in the IPL when it comes to boasting good spinners. Meaning it may come down to who plays spin better than who bowls it better.

I’ll stay away from playing the winner market until I’ve see everyone play at least twice but if you trust head-to-head records, go with KKR. They’re 12-7 up over the years and won both matches last year in the UAE, the first via a Super Over, proof of the fact these two really are well-matched.

Here’s…Jonny!

The SRH top batsman market is an interesting one to decipher. Warner ‘goes off’ at 2/1 though the eagle-eyed will have spotted that he’s been boosted to 5/2 by the Sportsbook, a tell-tale sign they want you to bet him. But we don’t, with worries about fitness and form.

DavidWarnerIPL.jpg

Wriddhiman Saha was a pleasant surprise late last year as an opener and he’s nothing if not fearless. That 4/1 isn’t a bad price but whereas we’re not concerned with the fact he might not play (you’d get your money back), we’re concerned he might not bat in the top order. So, we’ll swerve him, too.

Manish Pandey is a solid prospect at 9/2 and I’d be surprised if Jason Holder (if he plays) doesn’t win this heat at a big price (16/1 this time) at least once this season.

But the man for me here is Jonny Bairstow at 11/4. He ended up benched last season on the back of a poor run where he was ‘sacrificed’ in favour of Williamson in an ‘anchor role’.

He’ll surely play here and SRH may decide to split the Warner/Bairstow partnership by moving the Yorkshireman down to three with Saha opening.

I can’t see that making much difference to his chances and though you can ‘lose form’ when you’re not actually playing, it’s worth remembering his last three knocks in that ODI series led to scores of 94, 127 and 1. Go with Jonny.

Can Khan keep up with Kumar?

Another man bringing excellent form to the IPL is Bhuvi Kumar. His last five matches against England across T20Is and ODIs yielded nine wickets at good economy rates and he’s re-found his mojo. His injury at the start of last year’s IPL was a bitter pill for SRH to swallow given this is after all, a two-time Purple Cap winner we’re talking about here.

We said spin is key here but that might be even more reason why KKR might play 7/4 favourite Rashid Khan with increased respect.

Go with the IPL specialist Kumar, also at 11/4.