Paul Krishnamurty is adamant that we should follow long-term trends at Chennai in what feels like a must-win fixture for both sides...
"Spinners have a tremendous record here and that trend is likely to be accentuated now on used pitches"
Kings XI Punjab v Sunrisers Hyderabad
Wednesday, 11:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
With only three matches gone, it is still too early to write teams off. Punjab and Hyderabad fans are, however, entitled to feel worried and consider this is a must-win affair.
Critical match for early strugglers
To reach the play-offs, teams require a minimum of 14 points. Having lost their first three, that means Sunrisers need at least seven wins from 11. Punjab need six, as they have two points in the bag already.
In fairness, both can derive plenty of encouragement from last season. Sunrisers were considered all but gone, above 50/1 in the betting, yet went on to finish third. Punjab lost six of their first seven matches, yet only missed the play-offs by two points.
Punjab need drastic rethink
In both cases, line-up changes are required. As a Punjab backer, it has been infuriating to watch. I'd hoped they would use Dawid Malan or Moises Henriques to beef up the middle-order. Instead they've got a bowler, Jhye Richardson, at seven.
Richardson and Riley Meredith have been ineffective and may well continue in that vein in these very different Indian conditions, compared to the Big Bash where their reputations were made. I'd bring Fabian Allen in - an all-rounder who bowls well at the death in slow conditions.
Middle-order remains Sunrisers weakness
For Sunrisers, the issue remains their middle-order. They have twice blown what appeared near-certain chases at this ground, due to late collapses. Kane Williamson could come in, but at whose expense? Not Rashid Khan, Jonny Bairstow or it would seem David Warner. Likewise Mohammad Nabi could do the job as finisher but there are only so many slots.
Prior to Sunday's extraordinary RCB victory over KKR, trends at the M A Chidambarum Stadium had been rock-solid. Four out of five games produced sub-160 first innings with scoring slowing dramatically during the second half of the innings. 80 off the final ten, or even 40 off the last five, was a real struggle.
RCB performance was trend-busting
Sunday's pitch was definitely easier but I wouldn't read too much into it. AB De Villiers frequently makes a mockery of such trends. 204 was at least 25, maybe 40 runs over par.
Therefore I have no hesitancy in recommending the same bets that lost in that match. Place an order to lay 165 or more 1st Innings Runs at 1.75/7. Back ten and under Total Sixes at 3.55/2. The latter bet has won in nine of the last 14 at this ground.
Defending is definitely an advantage
The toss trends are very interesting here. There is a clear, long-term advantage to the team batting first. Five out of six won this term, making it 15 of the last 22. Yet RCB were the first toss-winners to field this season and the market moved against them for doing so!
These are solid, long-term indicators. Until there is some real evidence of change - rather than a couple of incredible innings - it should pay to stick with them.
Try spinners and finishers in tops markets
There are #OddsBoosts available about both favourites for top team batsman. KL Rahul is out to 12/5 and David Warner to 11/4.
For me, this is a ground to back middle-order finishers who could win the market with 40-odd runs. 13/2 about Nicholas Pooran for Punjab very much appeals.
Equally, spinners have a tremendous record here and that trend is likely to be accentuated now on used pitches. 5/1 about Murugan Ashwin being Top Punjab Wicket-Taker looks good value.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty
Paul's 2021 IPL Profit/Loss
Place order to lay 165 or more 1st Innings Runs 5u @ 1.75/7
Back Ten or fewer Total Sixes 2u @ 3.55/2
Back Nicholas Pooran to be Top Punjab Runscorer 1u @ 7.513/2
Back Murugan Ashwin to be Top Punjab Wicket-Taker 1u @ 6.05/1
Outright already advised
Back Delhi Capitals 3u @ 6.611/2
Back Punjab Kings 3u @ 13.012/1