Gujarat Titans v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Saturday April 30th, 11:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Returning captain boosts Titans
Hardik Pandya's brief injury absence did little to derail Gujarat's march up the table, but the team looks more balanced with their skipper in the side. Pandya has been more effective with the bat at IPL 15 and his 67 from 49 balls was the highest contribution in the win over KKR.
The news gets better for Titans fans with other batters finding their form. David Miller and Wriddhiman Saha have both top scored in recent wins. One way in which to effectively negotiate through the group stages involves knowing when to drop struggling players and Saha's introduction for Matthew Wade was perfectly timed.
If there are any concerns they will focus on a bowling unit that has been expensive in recent matches. Rashid Khan and Lockie Ferguson were wicketless in conceding 97 runs from eight combined overs against the Sunrisers.
Baffling batting sinks Bangalore
Are the Royal Challengers in a position to take advantage of a wayward bowling attack? Totals of 68 and 115 suggest not. The issues may be obvious with a batting unit tired of compensating for Virat Kohli who has made nine runs from his last three knocks.
On the subject of resting players, is it time for Kohli to take a break? As someone who profited in these columns as he plundered 973 runs at IPL 9, I'm one of his biggest fans but maybe he would come back stronger if he skipped a couple of games.
Other batters haven't exactly excelled, and the problems run deeper than just one man, but RCB need a boost from somewhere before their group campaign disappears.
Battle of the Brabourne
The Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, which was the scene of Bangalore's humiliation at the hands of SRH, is the setting for Saturday's afternoon game. Recent scores of 68 and 115 have rather skewed an average first innings total which was looking quite healthy up to that point.
The 200 mark was passed with regularity in the early stages of this tournament and the average first innings score remains respectable at 174. Four of the ten games played here at IPL 15 have gone with the side taking first knock. With the remaining six won by the chasing team, it will be a case of inserting and looking to restrict the opposition to around 170 or below.
The match betting is following the group table for Saturday's game: Gujarat Titans are listed as favourites at 1.8810/11 while Royal Challengers Bangalore follow at 1.981/1. RCB will surely improve on their two heavy defeats but will it be enough to trouble the league leaders?
Kohli aside, Bangalore are struggling in all areas with Faf Du Plessis and Josh Hazlewood holding up the batting and bowling units respectively. Gujarat have far better balance and there is enough talent to compensate if their key man - Hardik Pandya - fails.
RCB should bounce back to an extent but I'm backing the Titans here.
Gujarat are a solid unit but their skipper's batting form has been the main reason for their rise up the table. He's top scored with regularity this season and odds of 3/1 for Hardik Pandya to do so again are too good to turn down.
Shubman Gill starts as favourite in the Titans' top batter market at 11/4 while other options include Wriddhiman Saha at 16/5 and David Miller at 5/1.
Of course, RCB will not be dropping Virat Kohli and he is going to bounce back at some point. Kohli has been boosted on the sportsbook to 13/5 in Bangalore's top batter market while there are some interesting options in the #OddsOnThat section of the sportsbook.
Kohli to hit a 4 and a 6 carries odds of 8/15 while I'm seriously tempted by the 13/2 on Virat Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha to each hit at least two 6s. I'll be staying with two picks, but, if my predictions are proved wrong, I won't begrudge Virat returning to form.