We’re now past the halfway mark in the Group Stages and the next two days of action will go a long way to causing some serious changes in the table and give us a better idea of who’s making the playoffs and who’s going home at the first time of asking. Here are your best bets ahead of Friday and Saturday’s action.
Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders
Go with Gill
The defending champions are up against the enigmatic Knight Riders, who have so far combined miraculous come-from-behind wins with poor performances where the batsmen have got out to rash shots and the bowlers have too often allowed the opposition the chance to release the pressure by bowling poor balls.
Their job here isn’t going to become any easier now that Sunil Narine is on a final warning as a result of his bowling action. The Windies star is crucial with the ball as a champion spinner and valuable with the bat as a fearless pinch-hitter. He didn’t play last time as a result of this ongoing issue and was an important absence, so let’s see what happens here.
Mumbai looks to be by far the better all-round side and has beaten KKR 20 times out of 26 in the history of the IPL, proof of their dominance in this fixture.
But rather than side with Mumbai at short odds, go with Shubman Gill to top-score for the Knight Riders. He’s their top scorer for the tournament, looks in fine form, opens the batting, is as comfortable playing spin as pace and is up against a load of somewhat out-of-form colleagues, so he may not have much to beat.
Recommended Bet: Shubman Gill to be KKR Top Batsman @ +200
Rajasthan Royals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
Uthappa a big price to star for Royals
The Royals were their own worst enemies last time out against the Capitals, starting extremely well with the bat in a makeable chase, only to lose the plot when Ben Stokes got out. They’re an example of a side that doesn’t always play smart cricket. They chose the wrong bowlers to go after and didn’t punish the ones they should have been scoring off, which ultimately proved their downfall.
It’s going to be extremely hard to qualify for the playoffs from this position and a game against RCB isn’t exactly an easy one after the good season that Virat Kohli’s men have had.
An obvious problem for the Royals is the absence of in-form batsmen. Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and Steve Smith are all fine players, but it’s been ages since any of them has got to 50 and you’re not going to win many games when that happens.
Ben Stokes top-scored for them against the Capitals with a well-constructed 41 but we took note of the sensible innings played by veteran Robin Uthappa. He got to 32 off 27 when the pressure told and got out going for a much-needed boundary or else he would soon have overtaken Stokes’ score.
He knows his way around an IPL innings like few others and may be due a promotion from No. 5 to No. 4 on the back of that knock. Stokes is an obvious danger once more but then again, Uthappa is twice the price he is, so it’s an easy choice.
Recommended Bet: Robin Uthappa to be Rajasthan Royals Top Batsman @ +400
Delhi Capitals v Chennai Super Kings
Rabada and Dhawan candidates for match gong
The Capitals got back to winning ways in the week, bouncing back well from a loss at the hands of Mumbai at the weekend to show that was no more than a minor blip at the hands of the defending champions.
Chennai also won this week and though that win stopped the rot and will have given them plenty of confidence, there’s a long way to go yet and they’ll need to win quite a few games if they still want to make the playoffs. The move last time out to promote Sam Curran to an opener’s role worked well because his strengths lie in hitting over the top, useful in the Powerplay Overs. There was also a good all-round performance from Ravi Jadeja, who played a vital cameo with the bat and was extremely economical with the ball, a reminder of what he can do when in the mood.
The odds are tighter than one would think given where both sides are in the table but it’s Delhi who gets the vote to win this match. But rather than go for that, we’ll try to predict who might be man of the match here and given we fancy Delhi, it’s a couple of Capitals players we’re going with.
Remarkably, Kagiso Rabada has missed out on man of the match award again and again despite being the IPL’s clear top wicket-taker, so you could say he’s due. We also like the chances of Shikhar Dhawan, the veteran opener who has finally found some form after a slow start and has struck 69 and 57 in his last two outings. Another score like that here and he’ll be in real contention.
Recommended Bets: Kagiso Rabada to be man of the match @ +700; Shikhar Dhawan to be man of the match @ +600
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