Ed Hawkins previews the action from Dubai in the Indian Premier League on Thursday...
"The South African has an insane record of seven wickets in two outings against Punjab so picking him would be shrewd"
Chennai Super Kings v Punjab Kings
Thursday 7 October, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Back-to-back defeats for Chennai have meant they are in grave danger of losing their grip on a top-two finish. They are eyeing the form of Bangalore nervously.
Their bowling group, which has always been vulnerable, failed to defend 189 against the Royals. The batters then struggled against Delhi Capitals. It's not a great time to have both disciplines faltering.
Sam Curran is out of the tournament with a back injury and although that is probably a blessing given his form, it may prevent Chennai from thinking outside the box in terms of improvement. Do they not need more variation, or specifically, spin? Imran Tahir remains available.
Suresh Raina has been dropped because of poor form with Robin Uthappa coming in. Not ideal as Moeen Ali, excellent at No 3, has moved to No 4.
Possible XI Gaikwad, Du Plessis, Uthappa, Moeen, Rayudu, Jadeja, Dhoni, Bravo, D Cha-har, Thakur, Hazlewood
Punjab done for
Punjab's race is almost run barring a mathematical miracle. And, in truth, qualification would make a mockery of the tournament. They have been proved to be no way near good enough.
Chastening defeats by Rajasthan and Bangalore when in total command in the chase damn them as a side not to be trusted. But at least that provides us with a solid betting strategy.
There is no Chris Gayle, of course, which has meant a promotion for Nic Pooran to No 3. Pooran, who has had a shocking tournament, continues to be vastly overrated.
The balance is not quite right. They try to pinch an over from Aiden Markram but the reality is they're picking five proper bowlers. There has been no room for Adil Rashid or Chris Jordan.
Probable XI Rahul, Agarwal, Pooran, Markram, Sarfaraz, Shahrukh, Henriques, Brar, Bishnoi, Shami, Arshdeep
The nine first-innings scores in Dubai in the re-started tournament read (1-2 denote match won batting first or second, most recent first) read: 136-2/118-2/165-2/149-2/164-2/165-1/134-2/185-1/156-1.
We note the recent toss bias at the venue and in the tournament. It's about the right sort of timing for dew having an impact. That allied with the pitches slowing up due to overuse has made batting first - or rather knowing what a good score is - tricky.
If the innings par line is pitched in the mid-150s we would like to short Punjab. They are not the fastest starter and going under even 150 would have been a winner in five of the last eight.
Lay Punjab in-play
If Chennai win their superior run rate to Bangalore's should mean they are almost certain to finish second. So there is no need for them to play any other way than their modus operandi.
Punjab? Well, the mathematical equation that would see them leap two spots is unfathomable. Yes they might be more reckless with the bat but possibly only in a chase.
And if we don't get that runs wager chance we're happy to take them on batting second. They are routinely solid in the opening berth and we'd lay the hell out of them if their price came down to around 2.206/5.
Ruturaj Gaikwad, the tournament top runscorer, has usurped KL Rahul as the most reliable IPL batter in terms of win rate for top bat. He's copping at 57%. Gaikwad is 11/4. Rahul has been boosted to 9/4.
There are a couple of possible bets based on batting order. Could Moises Henriques move up to No 3 to replace the disastrous Pooran? The 8/1 suggests Sportsbook think the same. Pooran is 6s at No 3 - that price tells a story.
For Chennai we like the chances for Ravi Jadeja to be promoted but were hoping for better than 10/1. He is the same price for man of the match.
Finally, we don't expect Lungi Ngidi to play but at 10/3 for top Chennai wicket-taker he is way overpriced. Money back if he remains on the bench. The South African has an insane record of seven wickets in two outings against Punjab so picking him would be shrewd.
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Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye column p-l