Royal Challengers Bangalore v Sunrisers Hyderabad
Saturday 23 April, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
RCB finding new ways to win
One of the things you look for in a side capable of winning the IPL is the ability to win games from different positions and in different circumstances.
We knew that RCB looked good in the chase and that they had lots of firepower in that lower-middle order with Dinesh Karthik and Shahbaz Ahmed coming up with crucial quick runs on several occasions.
But what we saw on Tuesday was a different sort of performance. This time round it was somewhat out-of-form opener Faf Du Plessis batting deep to set Lucknow a stiff target and they showed they can also defend good totals on good wickets.
The secret to that win was not letting anyone go out and get a big score. Krunal Pandya top scored for the Super Giants with 42 but they kept chipping away and won by 18 runs.
That included a big moment of controversy with the excellent Josh Hazlewood (4-25) bowling a borderline wide (it was a wide) that wasn’t called and Marcus Stoinis shouting an obscenity that could almost be heard back in Australia when he then played on next ball, to end Lucknow’s hopes.
Virat Kohli is going through one of the leanest patches of his career in terms of runs. If he wasn’t Kohli, he’d have been dropped by now.
RCB’s Likely XI
Du Plessis, Bharat, Kohli, Maxwell, Prabhudessai, Ahmed, Karthik, Hasaranga, Patel, Hazlewood, Siraj.
Odd bunch SRH right in the mix
SRH are an odd side. Their skipper Kane Williamson is, in many people’s view, not a T20 player to begin with, though his career stats suggest otherwise.
Aiden Markram was recently dropped for the South African ODI side and may find a similar fate in the Test side when SA next have a series, though admittedly his T20 form has been a bit better.
Nicholas Pooran is one of cricket’s great enigmas as an incredibly gifted batsman who never seems to finish the job.
Umran Malik Is one of the fastest bowlers at the tournament and was one of their retained players despite not playing for India yet.
Another of their retained players (you’d think they’d walk into the side if they were retained) in Abdul Samad has since been dropped.
We could go on.
But after a poor start with two losses, Williamson has made the whole thing work and they’re now four from six and with every chance of getting a playoff place.
Last time out they bowled brilliantly to restrict Punjab to just 151 and chased it with minimum of fuss.
Markram is looking particularly good, having scored 41 not out in that one and 68 not out in the game before.
Sunrisers’ Likely XI
Sharma, Williamson, Tripathi, Pooran, Markram, Singh, Suchith, Kumar, Jansen, Natarajan, Malik.
We’re at Brabourne for this one.
Until Wednesday it was meant to be an absolute road with the par score around the 190 mark and chasing those sorts of scores very possible as long as you didn’t lose too many wickets.
So what do we make of Punjab’s 115 all out against Delhi on Wednesday?
Everyone bowled beautifully for Delhi and the Punjab found new and exciting ways of getting out to balls they shouldn’t have.
Shikhar Dhawan inside edged into the keeper’s gloves down the leg side, Liam Livingstone danced down the wicket and was stumped, Jonny Bairstow found the only man positioned on the leg side. And so on.
If anything, the ease with which David Warner and Prithvi Shaw went about the chase showed there was nothing wrong with that wicket at all.
So we should be looking at another high-scoring game.
SRH value in the chase
RCB are 1.758/11. Whereas I’m not surprised by that price, that’s not to say I agree with it. They have the stronger batting line-up but I’d favor SRH’s bowling right now.
If Malik is bowling rockets, Bhuvi Kumar is keeping good line and length and T Natarajan is miserly in the death overs, RCB may not have it all their own way here and sooner or later that Bangalore middle-order may not be able to bail them out.
But there’s a slight issue with the 2.265/4 on SRH. All of the four matches they’ve won so far were chasing so we don’t know that they can post a decent score and then defend it because they haven’t been in that position yet.
But if Hyderabad get to chase and you can still get 2.111/10 about them, that’s still a very decent bet.
RCB’s middle-order hitters in the game
The ‘regular’ 11/4 about Kohli top-scoring for RCB is about three weeks late as an April Fool’s Day prank and even the boosted 10/3 is an awful price on a player so horribly out of form.
Even Kohli’s big supporter, ex-India coach Ravi Shastrisays his ‘brain is fried’ after a year where he gave up three captaincy roles and was stripped of another, while losing to deadly rivals Pakistan for the first time ever at a World Cup.
But what the Sportsbook odds-compilers take with one hand, they give with the other.
Despite batting down at five, six or seven, Dinesh Karthik is the team’s second top runscorer on 210. That, admittedly, is because he’s only got out once in seven innings.
On the one hand it means his average for the season is ridiculously inflated, on the other it tells you how well he’s playing that he’s never getting out. His strike rate of 205 is Andre Russell territory. On a good day for Dre Russ.
Against the Royals, his 44 was pipped by Shahbaz Ahmed’s 45 and against CSK his 34 was again second only to Ahmed’s 41. He then finally won’t betting heat with 66 not out against Delhi.
So that’s one win in seven and two cases of coming pretty close indeed. Karthik will do us just fine as a 1/13 shot.
As will Ahmed, for that matter, who is the same price and as we’ve already said, has already won it twice himself.
Of course, given that they both bat in that middle-order, we’d need a bit of a collapse for them to have a chance. But that’s’ why they’re the big price and besides, it’s happened enough times already to think it may happen again.
With the ball, Josh Hazlewood should probably be favorite.
He started the season with a solitary wicket against CSK and then took three and four wickets respectively in his next two games, including of course the wicket of Stoinis that sparked that incident. Unsurprisingly, both efforts were enough for him to be their top wicket-taker on the day.
In the likes of Patel, Hasaranga and Siraj, he has some good players to beat.
But he’s been in fantastic form, bowls at the death and is a bigger price than them at 7/2, so it’s not a hard call.