KKR will be very hard to contain at the Brabourne

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Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kolkata Knight Riders
Friday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

The IPL returns to the most consistently high-scoring ground of the competition tomorrow. In five first innings so far at the Brabourne Stadium, 210 was reached twice and the lowest total was 177. Can these two sides maintain the trend and which is better equipped for a run-fest?

Sunrisers seeking third straight win

Rank outsiders at the start and even more so after losing their first two matches, Sunrisers have won two on the bounce. In both cases, however, they won the toss and chased relatively low totals. The jury, therefore, remains out on the side that finished bottom last year.

One big positive is that Kane Williamson is creeping back into form after injury, scoring 32 and 57 in those two successful chases. I’m still not convinced he should be opening though. A strike-rate of 98 today simply won’t do, given the likely need for at least 180 runs. They have yet to hit 170.

I do believe they have the power to score big. A middle-order including Abdul Samad, Romario Shepherd and Washington Sundar is potentially very powerful, if set a platform. The pitches for the last two victories were relatively slow so it is possible we haven’t seen the best of this side yet.

KKR clearly superior and worthy favourites

This is one of four IPL matches previewed in the latest Cricket…Only Bettor. My colleague Richard Mann predicts Kolkata will ‘outmuscle‘ Sunrisers here and that seems a particularly apt phrase. Batting-wise, on a ground set to require big totals, a side that can call upon the likes of Andre Russell, Sam Billings, Mohammad Nabi, Pat Cummins and Sunil Narine from number five has a clear edge.

That supremacy was reflected last season, when KKR finished runners-up and won both matches against Sunrisers. Moreover, the latter’s squad is now weaker, shorn of Rashid Khan, Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy and David Warner. None of whom have been adequately replaced.

In contrast, KKR look slightly stronger. Billings and Shreyas Iyer are notable additions to the batting, Russell may be in better touch and Umesh Yadav is bowling better than ever. With ten wickets, he’s been a menace with the new ball and is in contention for top tournament bowler honours.

None of this is news to the market, which makes KKR strong favourites at 1.715/7 compared to 2.3811/8 for Sunrisers. That’s very short for an afternoon IPL match, given the importance of the toss, but opposing them makes no appeal at all.

Back a high-scoring game

For my money, the value lies in the run-markets. Kolkata are perfectly capable of hitting 200 on this ground, and more. Although Sunrisers restricted Gujarat to 162 last time, they were extremely profiligate, bowling 20 wides and dropping three catches. A repeat could be catastrophic against this KKR batting line-up.

If KKR bat first, I’ll be happy to take 4.216/5 on 200 or more 1st Innings Runs, and also look at the extremes, such as 225 or more if odds around 25.024/1 are available.

Whilst Sunrisers don’t generate anything like the same confidence, this ground may well produce their best total of the tournament to date. Both Teams to Score 170 is boosted to 3/1 – that bet landed in four of the five matches at the Braborne so far. Also at 18.017/1, Both Teams to Score 200 is worth a few pennies. This has landed once in five.

Two other #OddsBoosts are available. Williamson is enhanced to 3/1 for Top Sunrisers Batsman and Ajinkya Rahane to 7/2 in the Top Kolkata Batsman market.

Both batting orders could be reshuffled

Neither appeals at all and I wouldn’t bank on either player opening. To up their strike-rate, Sunrisers urgently need to demote Williamson to the middle-order. Aiden Markram could move up or, more ambitiously, Romario Shepherd. Alternatively, Glenn Phillips could come in.

Likewise, surely Sunil Narine will get a chance to pinch-hit soon for Kolkata? If there’s a weakness in this side, its the top order. They are overloaded with powerful finishers and Narine is wasted at eight. Promoting him to opener involves little risk, because he always slogs from the outset, often effectively. Take 22/1 and hope KKR form the same conclusion.

Finally, Thangarasu Natarajan looks back to the high standard set a couple of seasons ago, reliably bowling yorkers at the death. He’s a certainty to bowl the 18th and 20th overs, offering a regular chance to take cheap wickets. Take 3/1 to be Top Sunrisers Wicket-Taker.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty