TWO IPL matches this Thursday. Cricket nut Josh Healey (@joshhealey04) gives us his best bets.
Rajasthan Royals v Sunrisers Hyderabad | Thursday 11:30 | Sky Sports 2
Second placed Rajasthan (14 pts) host seventh placed Hyderabad (8 pts) at the Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai in Thursday’s early match. The Royals will be keen to consolidate their top two spot whilst the Sunrisers will be desperate to edge closer towards the play-offs.
After three losses and two wash-outs, the Royals bounced back with a comprehensive win over Delhi last time out. Meanwhile the Sunrisers had picked up back-to-back wins before being well beaten away to Kolkata in their last outing. I fancy Rajasthan to make it two wins in two at their adopted home in Mumbai.
James Faulkner had a much needed rest and came back firing against Delhi with figures of 2-22, making Rajasthan a much more formidable prospect with the ball. Tim Southee is also hitting form whilst Dhawal Kulkarni and Stuart Binny have been impressive throughout the tournament.
Bowling isn’t the Royals greatest strength but they have a wealth of options available, and against a Sunrisers batting line-up that is far too reliant on its openers, I think some damage could be caused.
Hyderabad’s strength lies with their quality bowling unit, but Rajasthan have the deepest and most versatile batting line-up of all the sides and are more than a match for their opponents in this department.
Ajinkya Rahane is on fire whilst Shane Watson, Sanju Samson and now Karun Nair all look in ominous form. Then you have to take into account Steve Smith as well as lower order hitters Deepak Hooda, Stuart Binny and James Faulkner. The batters don’t stop coming and I feel as though they will be capable of either chasing or posting a large enough total on this track.
Personally I don’t think Rajasthan played their best cricket in the five game winning streak at the start of the campaign, and have a feeling they may be starting to peak now after a lengthy blip. The Royals looks refreshed and full of confidence once again and in this match they should be too strong for what is an unbalanced and inconsistent Hyderabad side.
Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Daredevils | Thursday 15:30 | Sky Sports 2
In Thursday’s second match, fourth placed Kolkata (11 pts) host sixth placed Delhi (8 pts) at the famous Eden Gardens. If Kolkata win this one you’d imagine the play-offs will be a step too far for Delhi, and so there is big pressure on the visitors here.
The Knight Riders haven’t had a noticeable run of form as of yet, but they have won enough games to put them in the driving seat to claim a play-off spot. Last time out they recorded a comprehensive win against Hyderabad, with the spinners playing a vital role that day.
Meanwhile Delhi have stuttered with back-to-back losses, and I think that could be made three on the bounce as Kolkata look too strong for them here.
The Knight Riders are the more versatile side and they have a plethora of options with both bat and ball. Although vastly improved from last year, the Daredevils could be running out of steam at the wrong time. Despite the quality it possesses, their batting lineup remains fragile and could be exposed by KKR’s formidable bowling attack.
The spinners have proved pivotal here at Eden Gardens; the ball is turning corners and the home side are well equipped with Piyush Chawla, Brad Hogg and Johan Botha in their armoury.
44 year old veteran Brad Hogg in particular has been in exceptional form with figures of 1-18, 4-29, 1-23 and 2-17 in his four games so far. In two of those four excellent performances, the Aussie wrist-spinner notched top KKR bowler, and I think that’s worth backing once again at odds of 3/1 with Paddy Power.
Delhi also have a quality spin trio in Imran Tahir, JP Duminy and Amit Mishra, and it’s the latter that catches my eye this time out. Mishra looks a healthy price to claim top DD bowler at odds of 9/2 with Paddy Power.
The leg spinner has bowled well throughout the tournament, but he has not yet claimed top bowler for his side this IPL. If that puts you off then I don’t blame you; as the odds suggest, it’s a risky bet.
However, what’s convinced me to back Mishra is that his bowling style is ideally suited to the Eden Gardens pitch. It’s a leg spinners’ paradise and Mishra is one of the best of his craft in the IPL. His leggies are beautifully flighted and he should get some sharp turn to boot; this will cause the KKR batsmen plenty of problems.
It’s worth noting that in most cases bookmakers apply the ‘dead heat’ rule when bowlers are joint top wicket-takers. This means one half of your stake will lose and the other half will win (at the same odds). Make sure you check the rules with your bookmaker beforehand. Paddy Power offer this and have the best odds available on this occasion so I’ll stick with them.
Thursday IPL – Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders Double (Skybet)
Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Daredevils – Brad Hogg top Kolkata bowler (3/1 Paddy Power)
Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Daredevils – Amit Mishra top Delhi bowler (9/2 Paddy Power)
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