Sunrisers Hyderabad v Punjab Kings
Saturday, 11:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Despite more than two-thirds of the season remaining, we are already into ‘last-chance saloon’ situations. To qualify for the play-offs, 14 points is a must and usually a good net run-rate to boot. That leaves virtually no room for error for either of these sides.
Sunrisers on the brink
Sunrisers would need to win their last six matches to reach 14. Not likely, given they’ve only won once in eight. Their first match after the resumption yielded a predictable hammering at the hands of Delhi.
The writing was on the wall in the first over, when losing David Warner for a duck. We have wondered all year on Cricket…Only Bettor why on Earth Sunrisers are persisting with the declining Aussie. He started the season as captain, so that is one explanation, but there really is no justification now that job has been handed to Kane Williamson.
One must think they could be in the mood to experiment in these last six games. Jason Roy hasn’t even had a game and their squad now includes another talented overseas batter in Sherfane Rutherford. If not the England opener, then why not try one of various finishers as a pinch-hitter? There’s nothing to lose.
Punjab coming off disastrous finish
As for Punjab, qualification still remains a possibility, thanks to the other results such as Mumbai and RCB’s defeats. Nevertheless, reaching 14 points requires four wins from five.
They must be absolutely shell-shocked after losing Tuesday’s crunch fixture to Rajasthan – who were matched at odds of 999-1 during the chase. They needed four off the final over, with seven wickets in hand, after K.L. Rahul and Mayank Agarwal had set it up with an opening partnership of 120.
I can only reiterate the view I’ve expressed throughout. This is an extremely capable side. Their best XI is up there with the best. World-class openers, strong middle-order, a stack of spinners and one of the best death bowlers around in Mohammed Shami. Yet in keeping with their history under the previous franchise name of Kings XI, they constantly disappoint.
Punjab fancied to keep hopes alive
Nevertheless, I do expect them to deliver here and keep their hopes alive. 1.758/11 on the exchange is a fair price. Earlier in this week’s Cricket…Only Bettor podcast, I put Punjab in a double with Chennai to win Friday’s match against RCB. You can listen here..
Following that Chennai game, this will be the second match to be played at Sharjah. By Saturday morning, the following advice on runs may look shrewd or stupid.
Huge runs on offer if Sharjah pitch allows
On a fresh pitch, with the ball coming on to the bat fairly well, par is around 200. A score of 230 is both possible, and chase-able. I’d go as far to say a world record score is possible here, such are the short boundaries. However as we saw last season, on a slow pitch, very low scores are possible. Teams mostly either hit boundaries or singles. There are plenty of dots and very few twos.
I will therefore take a chance on the former and take what could prove to be completely wrong odds in the ‘Both Teams to Score’ markets. Last year, the first seven scores at Sharjah were above 200. 223 was successfully chased.
Let’s therefore try both to score 180 and 190. See below for the staking plan.
The total sixes last year were 33, 29, 28, 21, 17 and 10, so keep an eye out for that market on the day of the game. Note the regression as the pitch slowed. That is the key.
Could Sunrisers experiment with batting order?
On the top bat markets, Warner and Rahul are boosted to 3/1 and 12/5 respectively. The latter is very fair value at those odds and one of my bets from the latest podcast is Rahul for Man of the Match, at 6/1.
But for Sunrisers, I’d rather punt at big odds on players who could be promoted in an experimental order. Try 19/1 about Jason Holder and 40/1 about Rashid Khan. The latter has long appealed as ripe for a promotion, especially when quick runs are the order of the day.
I also like 5/2 about Shami for Top Punjab bowler. He’s the best in the side and bowls brilliantly at the death. You won’t go far wrong taking these odds in every game.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty