Rajasthan Royals v Sunrisers Hyderabad
Sunday 2 May, 11:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Royals up against it
Rajasthan have suffered a player drain and are now down to just four overseas players for four slots. The wriggle room for a team which desperately needs to find some spark is almost non-existent.
Their best hope is that they use the disadvantage to their advantage. A backs-to-the-wall spirit which unites the squad. And, to be fair, there are signs of that. They beat Kolkata Knight Riders before, perhaps inevitably, Mumbai Indians were far too strong.
With a dearth of quality, it goes without saying that their big players have to step up. Jos Buttler is the chief culprit here. He is having a poor time with 130 runs at a strike rate of 127. The Royals would have expected the latter figure to be in the 140s.
Their four pace bowlers – Unadkat, Sakariya, Morris and Mustafizur – are having decent seasons. The problem is the fifth and sixth options. Rahul Tewatia, Riyan Parag and Shivam Dube have been pricey. One option they do have is to recall Shreyas Gopal as a specialist spinner and give Chris Morris more responsibility with the bat.
Possible XI Buttler, Jaiswal, Samson, Dube, Miller, Tewatia, Morris, Gopal, Unadkat, Mustafizur, Sakaraiya
Can SRH get balance right?
Kane Williamson has replaced David Warner as captain of Sunrisers. It is a move which couldn’t have been delayed any further if Sunrisers are to save their season.
As argued for on Friday, Warner had to go after stodgy batting and leadership. From the outside looking in, his performances and decision-making had too much ego about them.
By the tone of the Sunrisers statement on Saturday, Warner may struggle to get his place back. And that is as it should be. Warner’s axing not only as skip frees up a spot for an extra overseas player and gives them the opportunity to solve their lack of finisher. Mohammad Nabi would be the best pick although Jason Holder will also be in the frame.
Moving Manish Pandey up to open with Jonny Bairstow would be the smartest move. We suspect, however, that they might give Jason Roy a try first. That doesn’t actually solve their big weakness. A lack of a finisher has meant that they have faltered in chases which would have been straightforward with a player in that role available. We await with interest to see whether Abdul Samad is fit. Bhuv Kumar also has a strain.
Probable XI Roy, Bairstow, Pandey, Williamson, Jadav,, Shankar, Rashid, Suchith, Kaul, Ahmed, Sandeep
Each of the four teams in the two games played at Delhi (before Mumbai-Chennai) have busted 170. The surface has been compared to Chennai because it takes turn but it is not expected to be as extreme. Spinners are in the game, for sure, as noted by Mumbai spinner Rahul Chahar continuing his good form, but there is still plenty on offer for the bat. Prior to this year’s edition the wicket had a boundary percentage on a par with Bangalore, which is regarded as a road.
The strengths and weaknesses of the two sides, however, don’t make for an easy play on the innings runs. The Royals are leaky in the field, Sunrisers are not. The Sunrisers are ponderous with the bat, Royals are not.
It suggests that about par is on the cards. More than 160 could be a wager if even money was available first up.
Keep eye on team news
We are wary of a bet on the match odds before we know the Sunrisers XI. If they go with Roy, they have not solved their finishing problem. If they go with Nabi, then they may be worth an interest if the market settles – as it is shaping up to – at a choice affair at around 1.9110/11.
But that’s a bit Sunrisers-centric. The reality of taking odds-on Royals given their record, given their profligacy in the field and given Buttler’s poor form is difficult to stomach.
Contrary to popular belief, Sunrisers actually have a very poor record defending. So in-play the Royals at around 2.206/5 in a chase might be the way to play.
Tops wagers are also dependant on selection. Williamson looks in terrific touch and the 7/2 with Sportsbook is tempting. Do we gamble on him batting at No 3 with that price? Possibly. The 10/1 about a match gong also has strong appeal although neither price is ‘wrong’ on win rate.
As ever, we’re going to take the 16s about Nabi taking man of the match. That does fit ‘wrong’ price criteria. Samad is again a fancy for most runs (money back if he doesn’t play) but you’ll get at least twice that in-play.