Indian Premier League Betting: Rohit and Rahul lead the way
Ed Hawkins looks for winners on the top batsmen and bowler markets ahead of tournament start on Saturday
"With only Kohli and Parthiv Patel recognised as specialist openers it would be folly for Bangalore not to give him the most opportunity to do damage
Departing players help
With World Cup preparations expected to rob franchises of key players from England, Australia and West Indies in IPL, finding a tournament winner is tough. But the upheaval is a help rather than a hindrance when it comes to picking a top-bat bet.
In a crowded market, it is common sense to strip out the batters who will not be around for the whole tournament. After all, why would we want to bet, say, David Warner, when it is likely he could miss matches with Australians expected to depart on May 1?
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. There are a series of filters to apply before the value is revealed. The first is obvious: opening batsmen only please.
Only twice has an opener not topped the charts: Shaun Marsh and Kane Williamson last season. Williamson's ascent to the top in Sunrisers Hyderabad colours caused consternation among the analyst community because it reinforced out-of-date ideas about over-valuing wickets.
No matter. We expect the trend to return this time. As talented as the likes of AB De Villiers, Suresh Raina and Steven Smith are it is unlikely that they will get as much time at the crease as the opening batsmen.
The openers for each team are listed below, as discussed in our team-by-team guide. The ones in bold are those who are expected to play the whole campaign.
SRH Warner, Guptill, Bairstow
CSK Du Plessis, Watson, Vijay
RCB Kohli, Parthiv
MI Rohit, Lewis, De Kock
KKR Narine, Lynn
RR Rahane, Tripathi, Manan Vohra, Jos Buttler
DC - Shaw, Dhawan, Munro
KXIP - Rahul, Gayle, Agarwal
That leaves us with ten possible wagers out of 23. Martin Guptill does not make the cut as he will surely miss matches to make room for one of Jonny Bairstow or Warner. We can also be sure that Jos Buttler will leave Rajasthan Royals' other two openers twiddling their thumbs until the latter stages. Kings XI could split Chris Gayle and Manoj Agarwal. Sunril Narine doesn't make it either as a pinch-hitter.
The filter to apply to separate the wheat from the chaff is simple: how many runs do they score?
By taking average runs scored per innings (not outs included as a completed innings) in domestic T20 we can work out who is going to get closest to the 550 runs mark which could be a minimum to be in contention.
Runs per innings
Finally, the most important filter of all: price. Take a bow, then, KL Rahul who is listed at [14.5] on the exchange. It's a no brainer that we should be following him here, particularly after a breakthrough season last year for Kings when he rewarded each-way backers. He's 12s a quarter the first four with Betfair Sportsbook
Kohli is the fascinating one. With only he and Parthiv Patel recognised as specialist openers it would be folly for Bangalore not to give him the most opportunity to do damage. But then RCB are hardly renowned for shrewd moves. The [7.2] is what he would be if he wasn't pencilled in to open. There has been talk of Marcus Stoinis opening after Australia's ODI series with Pakistan.
Rohit Sharma has said he will open throughout for Mumbai Indians. Whether that holds in the face of a line-up which is a batter short remains to be seen. But there's nothing wrong with a bet on him at [13.0] on the exchange.
We'd like to wager Delhi's Prithvi Shaw because we're convinced he's going to win this market one day. But he has a big gap to bridge. The 33/1 on Betfair Sportsbook is an each-way fancy.
Lamichhane the man
The top wicket-taker market could be a case of déjà vu. Last year's winner AJ Tye doesn't have a huge amount to beat in terms of strike rates.
His record of a wicket every 15.3 balls is bettered by only Rashid Khan at 15.1. Yet Rashid is 5/1 jolly and Tye is 14s. Tye will be available for the whole tournament and will surely play every game so he should be second favourite.
That honours goes to Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah could miss a few outings with the World Cup in mind. His strike rate is 19.0 and we don't rate him as value at 12.s Delhi's Sandeep Lamichhane is 16s and it's a terrific each-way wager considering his skill and box of tricks.
Mitchell McCleanaghan (17.3), Kolkata's Harry Gurney (17.8) and Rajasthan's Jay Unadkat (16.8) at 25/1, 66/1 and 18/1 respectively with Sportsbook are all each-way picks. Gurney is a fascinating wager but it's unclear as to whether he'll pip Lockie Ferguson for a starting berth or be available for the whole tournament.
We will definitely be backing Lamichanne for top Delhi wicket-taker at 7/2. He should be favourite considering his strike rate (16.9) is superior to 5/2 jolly Trent Boult (19.3). Kagsio Rabada is a threat with a strike rate of 17.6 but he's the same price as the Nepalese.
Back Rohit top IPL runscorer [13.0] Betfair Exchange (1pt)
Back RL Rahul top IPL runscorer 12/1 each-way Betfair Sportsbook (1pt)
Back Sandeep Lamichhane top Delhi bowler 7/2 Betfair Sportsbook (2pts)