Titans flatter to deceive
The basic rule of thumb for a trend, and we're not talking bell-bottom flares or super juicing, is seven or eight consecutive up or down data points. Well, ten games into the Indian Premier League and we might be able to start nailing down some strategy.
So far there has been a bias for the side batting second. Seven matches have been won by the chaser and from game two, when Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Faf Du Plessis complained of dew when his side failed to defend 205 against Punjab, we have been on red alert.
There is always a trend within a trend, of course. And that is the holy grail. Or rather, a trend within a trend within a trend. Bangalore at odds-on. Bangalore defending. A toss bias. Fill your boots.
It sure is helpful to have such a bias post mega-auction. We are very much feeling these teams out. Past form is rendered largely irrelevant so we have to make judgment calls very quickly and largely based on personnel.
Gujarat Titans, it is fair to say, will be dumbfounding most observers. They are two wins from two despite an imbalanced squad and a lack of top-quality top-order batters. Their sequence surely cannot continue long enough to make the play-offs. Perhaps one more win and we might be laying. Currently they are 8.808/1 on the outright. Bet the outright market here.
Lining up a whopper of a wager when Gujarat face Punjab at the Brabourne on Thursday is a possibility. At the least we expect it to be a choice affair. Titans could even be favourites depending on what Punjab do against Chennai.
Rajasthan Royals are less of a surprise. They boast one of the better squads, missing first-rate attacking batters and mean and magnificent bowling. Their favourite status at 6.205/1 seems justified. Sluggish Mumbai Indians losing their first two is about as normal as an IPL gets by the way.
Coin flip or not, the big trend is for taking on the jolly. We've had one winner so far. That's quite something and is indicative or punters stull trying to work out sides as they pin early opinions on historic views. Chennai Super Kings are holders only in name it would seem.
In time, we expect the wheat to be separated from the chaff. And that may mean we see the toss bias slip away. Over time, that tends to happen. For example if we filter international matches in T20 in Asia under lights in the last three years, there is no toss bias.
Granted, if we took a smaller study sample of the last year we'd have a whopping bias because of the World T20 in the UAE. But we don't expect the same in India. The trend in the UAE was well-established. Less so in IPL when it is hosted in its home.
Bowlers continue to win MOM gongs more than batters
Bat was expected to dominate ball in this tournament as more and more teams start to prioritise aggression and power. With an average score of slightly more than 170 in first dig, it is a trend we can trust. Run rates are creeping up year-on-year.
What is surprising, however, is how this hasn't translated into reliable strategies on the side markets. It would stand to reason with batters to the fore that we would be playing them for the man of the match award, or expecting openers to routinely pick-up top-bat wins.
Not so. A bowler has taken the match gong six times as the early exchanges have also been characterised by standout performances. Think Wanindu Hasaranga versus Kolkata Knight Riders or Lockie Ferguson against Delhi Capitals.
An opening bat has top scored in five from 20 innings with one tie. That's slim pickings one would have thought given the opportunity to bat for longest and to make use of powerplays.
Jos Buttler's 68-ball century against Mumbai Indians on Saturday was more like the status quo on all fronts. A top-bat for one of the most reliable openers in the market, the match gong and, of course, one of the more bizarre trends. Hitherto Rajasthan, rolling with the punches in the depths, landed another knockout blow on the Indians. They have now won six of the last eight. Royals could well be the real deal this time.