Royal Challengers Bangalore v Sunrisers Hyderabad
Saturday, 14:00 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
All to play for on Super Saturday
Heading into the final weekend of the group stage, so much is in play. RCB can qualify for the play-offs and look very strong for a top-two finish by winning this. But if they lose, only two points will separate them from seventh place.
Sunrisers currently fill that position but win this and they’re up to fourth on net run-rate.
Such a scenario seemed unimaginable before either side’s previous match. RCB were hot favourites, playing already eliminated Chennai. Sunrisers outsiders against prominent Delhi. Two upsets have transformed the situation.
RCB have been superior this term
Nor does it fit with the story of the season. RCB have been outstanding. Never better. Sunrisers a poor shadow of the side we’ve become accustomed to in recent IPLs, shorn of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium.
Yet their example – hitting 219 first up at Dubai last time – illustrates how random this stage of the tournament can be. Teams come out all guns blazing, with nothing to lose. See Rajasthan’s two superb chases this week to stay in the hunt.
Chasing is a big advantage
Probably not the best time, therefore, to be taking 4/51.79 about the favourites before a toss which definitely matters. Chasers have won the last four matches at Sharjah and 12 of the last 15 in the tournament.
That doesn’t mean Sunrisers appeal at 6/52.2. Were it not for the toss factor, I’d be backing RCB pre-match. Instead I’m employing the ‘25% rule‘ and placing an order to back them at 7/52.4 in-running.
Kohli and De Villiers perfect for Sharjah
For me, success at Sharjah requires three things. Sixes, running miraculous twos and containing scoring. Who better than Kohli and De Villiers for the first two? Their batting line-up is far superior, whereas the edge Sunrisers historically have with ball has diminished this term.
That said, their new batting order is a big improvement. Wriddiman Saha is proving a revelation as opener but I still worry about their finishing power in the middle order.
What to make of par at this entertaining ground? In good scoring conditions, 250 is possible but the last two scores were 149 and 114. Pitches have definitely become slower.
170 isn’t a formidable target
Another low one wouldn’t surprise at all but the par 1st Innings Runs line is bound to be much lower now. Perhaps around 165. I wouldn’t want to be under that if RCB are batting.
In fact, 9/4 about Both Teams To Score 170 plus appeals at 9/4. That won in six of the nine matches here this season. Yes, we expect scores to come down but they haven’t at the other grounds this week. Without losing early wickets, and both top orders are very strong, 170 isn’t a big ask here. The last five overs could easily yield 70 plus.
All the favourites for Top Batsman or Top Wicket Taker are enhanced with OddsBoosts. Kohli is 23/10 for RCB, David Warner 12/5 for Sunrisers. The two key spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Rashid Khan, are 23/10 and 8/5 respectively.
Natarajan the pick among Sunrisers bowlers
I always think Rashid is both overpriced with bat and under-priced with ball. He can hit sixes for fun and could have some fun at Sharjah, especially if getting promoted. Take 35/1.
But with ball, Thangarusu Natarajan is a value alternative at 9/2. He’s taken an impressive 13 wickets so far, to Rashid’s 17, and is always liable to pick up one or two bowling at the death.
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