Ed Hawkins previews the contest from Pune on Saturday and argues that the hosts should be the favourites.
"At the odds it would be a dereliction of duty - and insane - not to recognise that the favourites should be the other way round"
Chennai Super Kings v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Saturday 5 May 11.10am
TV: live on Sky Sports
Super Kings beginning to wobble
Chennai have lost two of their last three and some of the lustre of their fast start is beginning to fade. Defeats by Kolkata Knight Riders, on Thursday, and Mumbai Indians have exposed issues which many have felt were there from the beginning.
Against Kolkata their sloppiness in the field proved key. Sunil Narine was dropped twice and creaking, ageing limbs in the field could not knock Kolkata from a jocular stroll in the chase. At Eden Gardens, Kolkata are nerveless going after a target so the opposition cannot afford laziness in the outfield.
It would be harsh to call out the Super Kings' bowling in that context but against Mumbai the woes were apparent. The Indians chased 170 for the loss of just two wickets. Chennai lack penetration in the pace department, allowing teams to get off to quick, risk-free starts.
Their strength is their batting. And they are consistent, too. They will not be worried, for example, about going after 180-190. Which is just as well considering their bowling resources.
Bangalore behind the rate
Bangalore are still alive following victory over Mumbai Indians last time out. It's now three wins in eight. That sort of win-ratio suggests a play-off spot is well out of their grasp but stranger things have happened.
If they're going to go, they need to go now. What will have buoyed them about beating Mumbai was that they managed to defend a target. They have failed to protect 175, 205 and 176 this series, as their death bowling has been awful. Their average economy rate stood at plus 13 before they held on against the Indians.
Tim Southee and, rather surprisingly, Mohammad Siraj were the pacers who kept it tight that time. The inclusion of Kiwi all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme has allowed them to strengthen their bowling.
There is still heavy reliance on Virat Kohli, AB De Villiers and now Brendon McCullum - Quinton de Kock has been dropped - for runs.
Wicket says runs
The Pune surface is good for batting with 200 busted twice in three matches. Considering the bowling stocks are not the best, it would be a surprise if 180 was not the minimum required batting first. It is a good chasing ground, although that may have more to do with defunct franchise Pune being poor at defending.
Bizarre match odds have visitors as jollies
Chennai Super Kings are outsiders on the early prices at [2.08]. Bangalore are chalked up at [1.84]. If that favouritism holds it would be reasonable to expect to get [2.2] about the Super Kings.
Does this make sense? In terms of the league standings and form table not a jot. Chennai have six wins from nine and one of those was against Bangalore when they chased down 205.
But this is Bangalore we are talking about. The market is still wowed by their superstar batsmen, rather than the historic and traditional trend for them being poor in the field.
At the odds, it would be a dereliction of duty - and insane - not to recognise that the favourites should be the other way round.
It is fair to say that, when many were trying to figure out a top-bat bet for the tournament, Ambati Rayudu didn't get much of a mention. But at the time of writing, he is top of the tee. He also top scored against Bangalore in that previous meeting. He should be the favourite for top Chennai bat so the 10/3 that Betfair Sportsbook is value. Shane Watson and Suresh Raina are shorter at 5/2 and 16/5 respectively. Rayudu is 10/11 for over 21.5 runs.
De Villiers price may alert
King Kohli goes off at 21/10 with Sportsbook. De Villiers is 11/4 and McCullum 7/2. De Villiers top scored with a rapid 68 in the early meet. De Grandhomme's late-order blitzing may tempt some at a whopping 22/1. Kohli is a 5/1 chance for the man of the match award with De Villiers 11/2 second favourite.
Chennai Super Kings [2.08] (2pts)
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
Chennai Super Kings [2.08] (2pts)