We’re heading toward the final group games of this season’s IPL and we could be in for our tightest finish ever. Mathematically, no side has been ruled out of a place in the playoffs and although we can probably say goodbye to the Rajasthan Royals at the bottom of the table, the remaining seven franchises are all in the mix.
Week 6 will decide most of those slots so what’s in store as we head toward another busy seven days of action?
Rajasthan cling on
With just six points from 10 matches, Rajasthan’s elimination should be rubber-stamped shortly but the team has improved in recent games. A change of captaincy brought around a change in fortunes and on Thursday, the Royals host a KKR side that is in poor form having lost its last five matches.
However, the Royals’ cause is essentially hopeless while Kolkata has everything to play for so we’re backing KKR at -175 as opposed to Rajasthan at +137.
When Chennai is at home, the smart money should be on MS Dhoni and his men in yellow. CSK has five wins from five on its Chepauk surface and the latest team to attempt to end that perfect record is the Mumbai Indians.
Friday’s markets see the Super Kings start as favorites at -120 while the Mumbai Indians are close behind at +100. Much could depend on the toss as CSK prefers to chase but that perfect home record makes them the sensible bet here.
We only have one Saturday game this weekend and it sees a quick turnaround for the Rajasthan Royals. They will be at home to Sunrisers Hyderabad but will Steve Smith’s men have anything to play for at this stage?
With Rajasthan to play on Thursday, the market for this match has yet to open but Sunrisers Hyderabad will certainly start as favorites. SRH will have everything to play for while pride is all that’s at stake for the Royals and that’s unlikely to be enough.
Sunday reverts to the standard two-fixture format and it starts with the Delhi Capitals against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. RCB, after suffering a dismal start, is the form team in the IPL with four wins from five and another victory would keep them in touch with an unlikely playoff place. There are some early prices for this tie with both teams currently listed at win odds of -111. It should be as tight as those odds suggest but we’re backing Delhi’s impressive batting lineup to edge a high-scoring contest.
The weekend closes out with the Kolkata Knight Riders hosting the Mumbai Indians. KKR is at the opposite end of the form table to Bangalore and a run of defeats leaves them in danger of missing out on the playoffs. Much has been said about Andre Russell’s role in the team as confused selection suggests some discord in the Kolkata camp. Everything is on the line here and while this isn’t our most confident tip of the week, we’re backing the Knight Riders to respond positively.
Kings’ Hopes Fading
A new calendar week begins on Monday with Kings XI Punjab traveling to take on Sunrisers Hyderabad. Sunrisers’ batting lineup may well be affected by the loss of Jonny Bairstow to international duty but do KXIP have enough to take advantage of his absence?
Twelve months ago, Kings XI started IPL 11 brightly before fading in the latter stages of the groups and Ravichandran Ashwin’s side seems to be following the same pattern. They’ve lost four of their last five matches and while Hyderabad’s remaining batters need to step up, the home side should have enough to claim the points.
Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals contest Tuesday’s tie at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. They occupy the bottom two places ahead of Week 6 but will either team have any hope of progression by the time they cross paths in Bengaluru?
RCB has the better chance but if, as we suspect, they lose to the Delhi Capitals at the weekend, this fixture may well have nothing riding on it. Dead rubbers are often the hardest to call but Bangalore still looks to be in better shape. As long as the selectors don’t decide to rest Virat Kohli ahead of the World Cup, RCB should compile a big total and claim the points.
The week concludes with another home game for the table topper Chennai Super Kings. They may have been wobbly on the road but they’ve turned Chepauk into a fortress and will be targeting two more points when they host the Delhi Capitals.
The Capitals have impressed since the start of the tournament and they should make the playoffs but this is Chennai’s stronghold and MS Dhoni’s men are a strong bet for two points.
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