Ed Hawkins previews a c racker from Chennai on Tuesday and says we need to get with the visitors before their price disappears...
"Given KKR's power this could be one of the last chances we get to back them at odds-against"
Chennai Super Kings v Kolkata Knight Riders
Tuesday April 10 15.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Super Kings roll back the years
It is early days in IPL but the ageing rockers that are Chennai Super Kings may well have rediscovered their mojo. Their days of 60 per cent win records looked a distant memory for much of the season opener on Saturday against Mumbai's before a remarkable recovery.
Many are liable to be surprised that a franchise, whose recruitment strategy seemed to be based on the mantra 'let's get the old gang back together', can mount a serious title charge but they got off to a thrilling, momentum-building start.
Chennai, chasing 166, were down and out at 118 for eight in the 17th over. Naturally, Mumbai were [1.01]. But Dwayne Bravo played an unbelievable innings with 68 from 30 balls.
Kolkata looking strong
Kolkata Knight Riders, our sweethearts, are one from one having downed Royal Challengers Bangalore, the team bettors love to lay, in their first outing.
It was an impressive performance by the Knight Riders. They were under the gun with Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers finding their range. In that situation they were looking at a possible 190-plus chase.
But then Nitish Rana, the part-time spinner, somehow wheedled out both men in successive deliveries. And from then on Kolkata were favourites.
With 176 to go after, Knight Riders never looked back on good batting wicket. Sunil Narine blitzed a 19-ball 50 and they weren't even perturbed by the cheap dismissal of Chris Lynn.
Rana, what a game he had, and skip Dinesh Karthik then milked the RCB bowling and it was job done.
Wicket should suit spin with 150 tricky
When a captain wins the toss at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, he needs his head read if he doesn't choose to bat first. There's a 60% bias in favour of the team batting first. That is because the wicket can be more than a bit slow.
More than 150 has been breached in one of the last six so don't go mad on first-innings runs. Indeed, it could be smart to look for lays at 160 and 170 with the fast start in the first six overs. Both teams could be willing to take risks in that period knowing that they are still in the game with 140-odd.
KKR need more respect on match odds
There is method to Chennai this season, even if you are not convinced that MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh and Shane Watson are past their best. They will prepare turners and hope their army of spinners squeeze the opposition.
That may well work against teams like Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals, who have neglected their spin options. But it's a risk against Kolkata who boast Narine and the excellent Kuldeep Yadav.
So the [1.83] about Chennai cannot be considered value. We are sweet on Kolkata at [2.1] therefore. Given their power this could be one of the last chances we get to back them at odds-against. We will keep the toss bias on ouir side and wills till probably get [2.0].
In Narine, Lynn, Andre Russell, Robin Uthappa and Mitchell Johnson they have a core group of consistent T20 performers. They deserve more respect on the market. In time we expect them to get it.
Pitch could be right for Dhoni special
Watson and Ambati Rayudu will open for Chennai but it is understandable if punters are not rushing to get with those two at skinny odds. Blasters are not the way to go on a tacky surface. Instead look for batsmen who can work the ball into gaps and keep the scoreboard ticking. Dhoni, then, could be perfect and there are worse bets around if you can get around [9.0].
Narine and Lynn no fund for top-bat bets
Narine's role as a pinch-hitter takes the pressure off Lynn to go big early on. We're not sure either man will go well here, though. The best way to stop Narine and Lynn is to get the spinners on and get the ball above the eyeline. We'd be looking middle-order again for top Kolkata runscorer and Karthik could be the man at big odds.
Kuldeep a bet for top bowler
As well as being skinny for top-bat, Narine will probably be favourite to land top KKR wicket-taker. It makes sense. This is a spinning wicket and he will be dangerous. But Kuldeep is more dangerous and has a better record on top bowler. If you can get anything bigger than [3.75], take it. We don't doubt you will.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Kolkata batting first [2.0] (3pts)