Runs have flowed in recent games but Paul Krishnamurty says the Chennai pitch is less conducive to scoring and both sides have the bowlers to exploit conditions...
"Chennai is historically a relatively low scoring ground...In-running, look for extreme unders positions during the last five overs."
Sunrisers Hyderabad v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Wednesday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
At the time of writing, each team has played one match. Too early to form conclusions but plenty of food for thought. Naturally it was nice to see both of my outright picks Delhi and Punjab get off to a winning start.
Could 2021 finally be RCB's year?
The team that most caught my attention, however, was Royal Challengers Bangalore. Perennially over-rated and over-bet, for once they came in under the radar. They have improved and have a real shot at a first title.
Balanced is not a word one associates with RCB but a solid unit has been built over the past couple of seasons. Their bowling is now anything but fodder, as Mumbai found out during a brilliant spell at the death. Again, good death bowling is not a trait associated with RCB.
Their array of Indian bowlers - Chahal, Siraj, Saini, Patel, Sundar - massively reduces the headache of overseas selections. Whichever four from De Villiers, Maxwell, Christian, Sams or Jamieson make it, the side will be strong in all areas.
Are Sunrisers picking the right batsmen?
Contrast that with Sunrisers. Overloaded with world-class overseas top-order batsmen, arguably picking the wrong ones in the wrong positions. I would have Roy opening with Bairstow at Warner's expense, and use Kane Williamson sparingly when appropriate.
Despite a disappointing loss to Kolkata, it is far too early to start writing them off. They are better in the second half of the season on slower, turning pitches when their bowlers are arguably the best unit in the tournament.
Chennai pitch is relatively low-scoring
This may be such a pitch. Chennai is historically a relatively low scoring ground and in the tournament opener, a 160 chase went to the final ball. Conditions slowed considerably towards the end of the first innings.
The second match there was Sunrisers v KKR, producing much higher with 187 beating 177. Note, however, that KKR got off to a flier and also slowed up badly at the death.
Unders look value, particularly in-play
My instinct was 187 felt about 15-20 above par for the first innings. Sure, scoring averages are rising but this one was stark. Only four of the last 18 first innings here produced a higher total, of which ten were under 160. Likewise 18 sixes in the match was the highest tally in ten since 2018.
With so many high scores already I suspect the market will price par around 175. Given that Bangalore have already shown their effectiveness bowling on a slow surface, and Hyderabad have pedigree galore in that regard, I'm looking to lay the 165 or more 1st Innings Runs band.
In-running, look for extreme unders positions during the last five overs.
Historic advantage to defending side
The toss effect may also differ from the Wankhede matches and general trends. KKR became the 11th team batting first to win in 18. Note too that Mumbai only failed to defend 159 on the final ball, after a De Villiers special had resurrected RCB.
Again, the market may well move towards the chaser in line with recent trends, rather than ground specifics. If so, trading the side batting first from odds of 2.47/5 or better may be the smart play, in what is more or less an even contest.
Bairstow in cracking form
The odds about the favourite for both Top Runscorer markets are boosted - David Warner to 3/1 for Sunrisers, Virat Kohli to 13/5 for RCB. There's also 10/3 about both scoring 30 runs or more available.
One potential angle lies in predicting the Sunrisers batting order, which could change significantly if Saha returns to the middle order. Were Bairstow restored to opener, 4/1 would be huge. Even from number four, based on his superb 55 off 40 and white ball form for England, those odds are still fair.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty
Paul's 2021 IPL Profit/Loss
Outright already advised
Back Delhi Capitals 3u @ 6.6
Back Punjab Kings 3u @ 13.0]