Ed Hawkins previews the first game of IPL Part Two from Dubai on Sunday and picks a 3/1 bet...
"Tahir returns money 40% of the time and has excellent match-ups against Quinton De Kock, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya and Pollard"
Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians
Sunday 19 September, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Chennai eye crown
Chennai are the favourites for the title and are second in the ladder behind Delhi Capitals. But they could be forgiven for feeling nervous about Part Two being played in the UAE. They finished second-bottom when IPL 2020 was staged there.
Their squad is better balanced now. Moeen Ali has been a revelation, transforming them from a ponderous batting unit to the fastest scorers. They remain solid with the ball and could get even tighter if Imran Tahir comes in..
There is a concern about Faf Du Plessis's fitness. The South African was in great touch in the CPL but he is suffering with a groin problem. CSK insist he is available for selection, though. Robin Uthappa stands by if not. Sam Curran is quarantining.
PossibleXI Gaikwad, Du Plessis, Moeen, Raina, Rayudu, Jadeja, MS Dhoni, Thakur, Chahar, Ngidi, Tahir,
Mumbai slow starters
Mumbai Indians have a habit of starting tournaments slowly. So the break is likely to feel like a new beginning and a tuning-up period may again be required. They have not won an opening game since 2012.
The good news is that Kieron Pollard is likely to slot straight back in to the XI. He joined the team bubble on Thursday following the CPL. And it may well prove that the break has done a Mumbai batting line-up which was strangely quiet some good.
Man for man, no-one trumps them. They have all basis covered. In fact, Adam Milne may make their bowling even more dangerous. And that takes some doing because they are ranked at No 1 for economy.
Possible XI Rohit, De Kock, Suryakumar, Ishan, Pollard, Hardik, Krunal, Chahar, Milne, Bumrah, Boult
On two-year data Dubai is the least batting-friendly of the three venues. The run rate in the study period is 7.5. However, 18 of the 26 IPL 2020 matches saw 160 or more busted in the first-innings. There is a seven per cent swing in favour of the chaser on toss bias.
We expect bigger runs in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi so this may not be the game to start going high for runs, particularly as both bowling units are tight. Sportsbook go 6/5 both teams score 160 or more. That's happened twice in the last seven head-to-heads. The last meeting before postponement was out-of-character. Chennai failed to defend 218 in Delhi.
Chennai probable value
Mumbai are 1.824/5 favourites with Chennai 2.206/5. Mumbai's slow start - like an OAP getting up at the alarm clock - may well be reason enough to take them on.
This 'opener take two' has the feel of a choice affair. And if the Chennai price holds with the toss in their favour, there's nowt wrong with a wager on them reaffirming their position as title favourites.
Faf is boosted to 13/5 for top CSK bat. Shardul Thakur is 100/1. That looks like a rick with recency bias a possibility of affecting his spot in the order. Ruturaj Gaikwad is chunky at 4s for an opener.
Pollard is 7/1 for Mumbai which is bang on in terms of two-year win rates. He did smash an unbeaten 87 in that extraordinary chase last time. Rohit Sharma and De Kock are both rated at 11/4.
With the ball we like Imran Tahir from a probable 3/1 for top Chennai wicket-taker. He returns money 40% of the time and has excellent match-ups against Quinton De Kock, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya and Pollard.
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