Chennai Super Kings v Royal Challengers Bangalore: Super Kings super price
Ed Hawkins kicks off the tournament with two big-priced wagers and a fancy for the holders on Saturday...
"Bangalore have all the talent in the world but their weaknesses is highlighted perfectly when they come up against CSK. They lack smarts"
Chennai Super Kings v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Saturday 23 March, 14:30
Live on BT Sport and Star Gold (Sky channel 729)
Super Kings hurt by Ngidi absence
Super Kings suffered a blow to their hopes of defending the title when they lost South African tyro Lungi Ngidi on the eve of the tournament. Ngidi could well have fired the Super Kings to glory again considering his death bowling and Dwayne Bravo's loss of form in that area.
Instead, it is likely that David Willey will come into the XI although he is seen as more dangerous with the new ball instead of the old. Otherwise the Super Kings are at full strength.
Faf Du Plessis, set to open with Shane Watson, should be available after being left out of the South Africa T20 squad for the final two matches of the series against Sri Lanka. They could pack their team with spin with Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Harbhajan Singh and Mitchell Santner available. Indeed, it could be a choice between Santner and Bravo.
As ever, MS Dhoni leads a unit, coached by clever Stephen Fleming, which knows exactly what to do and when. Write this lot off at your peril long-term and short-term. They find ways to win when other teams would be packing their kit bag.
Bangalore lack brains
Bangalore have all the talent in the world but their weaknesses is highlighted perfectly when they come up against CSK. They lack smarts. If they had a brain trust like Dhoni-Fleming they wouldn't still be waiting for their first title. They have lost 12 of 16 head-to-heads.
Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers are relied upon for runs but they are without their Aussie duo of Marcus Stoinis and Nathan Coulter-Nile for this one. In time we expect those two to be vital for balance.
Two from Moeen Ali, Colin de Grandhomme and Tim Southee could come in. Kohli really should open the batting but we can never be sure that RCB will make the right call. Shivam Dube is set to bat at No 6 or 7. Dube came to prominence after five successive sixes in a Mumbai T20 league against Pravin Tambe. He repeated the feat in a Ranji Trophy game.
Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Siraj are the best domestic pace options. They will be backed by spinners Washington Sundar and Yuz Chahal.
Toss bias alert
The average first-innings score at the MA Chidambaram Stadium is 163 with an expected powerplay score of 45. There is a 62% bias for the side batting first, which is hugely significant as we'll discuss in a moment. More than 200 has been busted seven times in the last ten years (61 matches).
Chennai in a chase?
Chennai are [1.90] with Bangalore [2.02]. Given the respective records of the two teams (Chennai the most successful franchise and Bangalore the biggest underachievers) and the head-to-head it is surprising that the hosts are not shorter.
Perhaps the market is wary of the toss bias, which is important because it flies in the face of the teams' respective trends. Chennai can chase anything. Bangalore couldn't defend Fort Knox. Chennai had an 80% win rate batting second last year and Bangalore 33% batting first. That was going to be our edge before the ground bias surfaced.
If such filters are not for you there is nothing wrong with betting CSK at the odds. They might not be as big again all tournament. They are clear value.
Ambati Rayudu is the correct favourite for top Chennai bat at 3s (Sportsbook). He was their top runscorer last term with 602. Du Plessis is a bet, though, at 4/1. On franchise form he should be more like a 16/5 chance. Shane Watson is overrated at 10/3 on franchise form. No doubt he will be in the runs again this tourney but it's a little skinny for our liking. Kohli or AB De Villiers for top RCB bat? The good news - and rare indeed - is that both are underrated. Kohli is 5/2 but it more like a 2/1 on IPL form. AB gets a 3/1 quote but is more like 9/4.
The MA Chidambaram should take spin. It has that reputation. So Imran Tahir could be worth following for top Chennai bowler. There's a whole point in our favour on franchise form. The 4/1 with Sportsbook looks chunky indeed. He is the only Chennai bowler who is bigger than he should be.
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
Virat Kohli top RCB bat 5/2 (1pt)
Back Chennai [1.90] (2.5pts)
Back Imran Tahir top CSK bowler 4/1 (1pt)