Indian Premier League Winner Tips: Mumbai's elites to charge to the final

Suryakumar Yadav
Yadav is one of four statistically elite players in the Mumbai squad

Ed Hawkins says the five-time champions should at least make another showpiece thanks to an ultra-talented squad...

  • Indians 4.77/2 for the title

  • 11/53.20 for final spot value

  • CSK in transition?

  • Mumbai too strong

    The Indian Premier league begins on Friday. It will be bolder and more boastful than before. Of course it will. And just as divisive. There is no doubt, however, that the world calendar now awaits the carnival with baited breath. The cricketing political machinations aside, by Jove it is a feast for the senses.

    And the bettors. There will be 74 matches to decipher and an outright market from top to bottom offering a 15-point swing. Chaos and jeopardy are ubiquitous hurdles to navigate. This year the full fixture has not been released because of elections.

    There should, however, be a reassuringly familiar conclusion. The well-established franchise leagues are, by and large, dominated by the best teams. The formbook holds. Owners, coaches, analysts and players know what they do well now in contrast to the relative wild-west early years.

    This largely explains the strong performances of the two new franchise, Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants. They adopted modern-day methods from day one while some teams remain hamstrung by dusty and unreliable stratagem.

    Keep it simple

    Chennai Super Kings, the holders, and Mumbai Indians have won five titles each. It would be a surprise if the winner didn't come from the two powerhouses once more. Only one is value, however.

    And that is Mumbai. As sophisticated as the analytics of T20 has become these days - and books could be (and have been written about the whys and wherefores of a winning outfit) - sometimes it can be to ask about bald facts: who has the best squad?

    If there has been a better selection of players brought together for a tournament, it is hard to think of one. Mumbai bristle with power and skill. Not that they have crafted their squad in particularly fair means. The acquisition of Hardik Pandya, a rare and bonafide India all-rounder, from Gujarat might be considered a bit of sharp practice even though no rules were broken.

    If we do allow ourselves to disappear down the rabbit hole that is analytics and survey the Mumbai squad on the benchmarks which the analysts use, then suspicions that man-for-man they are the best are confirmed.

    The metric which team builders use to select players works on a mean performance filter; below the mean players, above the mean and elite. By focussing on strike rate and average for batters and bowlers it is possible to build a strong awareness of team strength and weaknesses. If a player hits the criteria for both strike rate and average, they qualify as above the mean or elite. If they go below, well, you can guess the rest.

    The above mean benchmark for bats is a 26 average and 135 strike rate and for bowlers 25.7 and 18.7. Elite bats average 34 and strike at 150, bowlers 20 and 14.8.

    The elites versus also-rans

    Mumbai boast four elite players in their squad - Suryakumar Yadav, Nehal Wadhere, Gerald Coetzee and Nuwan Thushara. Yes, you read that right. Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Tilak Varma and Tim David are just shy of elite status on their career figures.

    No other team comes close to matching them if they get their XI right. We would advocate dropping Ishan Kishan for 'above the mean' Vishnu Vinod while David may not even get in the starting XI.

    While we're on the subject, Rohit Sharma is neither elite or above the mean. He is in good company with Indian team-mate Virat Kohli in the same bracket. In that senetnce you have why bangalore don't have appeal.

    Elite players by team

    4 Mumbai
    2 Chennai, Sunrisers
    1 Gujarat, Kolkata, Lucknow, Punjab,
    0 Bangalore, Delhi, Rajasthan

    On such rationale one can hang a bet on Mumbai at 4.707/2 instead of second-favourites Chennai at 5.309/2.

    It would be folly to claim Chennai are on the decline, of course, but one has a suspicion this could be a year of transition much like Mumbai in 2022. Their 'elites' are Tushar Deshpande and 19-year-old all-rounder Nishant Sindhu.

    Best way to play

    They boast a clutch of savvy, reliable players who outperform most but the absence of Devon Conway, their top runscorer last year, is a blow. The opportunity for blooding young batters Sameer Rizvi and Shaik Rasheed should stand them in good stead.

    As ever there are plenty of if, buts and maybes with the rest . Possibly Rajasthan Royals, who are well-balanced and settled, go close to an all-important top two at 9.6017/2 while Lucknow Super Giants are underrated at 11.5021/2.

    We did have a soft spot for Kolkata at [15.0] but fears about Shreyas Iyer's back and the burden of responsibility on the old shoulders of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine weigh heavily.

    Perhaps the biggest conundrum is the best way to play Mumbai. The 11/53.20 that they reach the final keeps onside the not-unheard-of rogue day at the office.

    Back Mumbai indians to reach final @ 11/53.20

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Sunday 26 May, 3.30pm

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