Rajasthan Royals v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Tuesday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
For what may well be the first time since Shane Warne led them to the inaugural IPL title back in 2008, Rajasthan Royals are the tournament favourites at 6.25/1. For reasons that aren't easy to comprehend, however, they start clear outsider for Tuesday's clash at the Wankhede Stadium.
Royals faultless so far
Whilst Royals do boast a 100% record compared to 50% for Bangalore, such numbers are barely meaningful after just two games. If RCB are the better side, surely they shouldn't be 8.415/2 for the title? It is of course customary for Bangalore to be over-rated and Rajasthan to be under-rated, but these match odds seem strikingly wrong.
As I argued before both of their victories, the switch to a ten-team format and vast squad changes have benefited Rajasthan more than any other franchise. From a decimated squad last year, they now boast arguably the strongest. Particularly the bowling.
They could hardly have been more impressive for either victory. In both cases, they defied the general bias towards chasers and toss winners. Their victory margins were comprehensive - by 61 and 23 runs. That leaves good reason to think they can do so again at today's chaser-friendly ground so I'm happy to take the 2.285/4 on offer now.
This looks the best bowling unit
Jos Buttler's ton was the key to Saturday's victory over Mumbai but, in both matches, the bowlers did a great job restricting the chase. Their world-class quartet of Yuzvendra Chahal, Trent Boult, Ravi Ashwin and Prasidh Krishna all boast economies below 7.0 in the tournament, despite bowling second. Expect that sort of quality to persist throughout the season.
Here's the team forecasts from Cricinfo:
Rajasthan: Buttler, Jaiswal, Padikkal, Sansom, Hetmeyer, Parag, Ashwin, Saini, Boult, Krishna, Chahal.
Bangalore: Du Plessis, Rawat, Kohli, Karthik, Rutherford, Ahmed, Hasaranga, Patel, Willey, Siraj, Deep.
Some thoughts on those would-be line-ups. Royals are surely likely to utilise their four overseas picks, and add either Rassie van der Dussen, James Neesham or Nathan Coulter-Nile. Presumably at Navdeep Saini's expense, with the batting beefed up as a result.
Chahal's exit could hurt RCB
For Bangalore, that line-up excludes Glenn Maxwell, who has now joined the squad following his wedding. For my money, he's the key to their chances this season. The RCB batting has great depth, as ever, but they lack a truly world-class spin following Chahal's exit. In their first match, RCB failed to defend 205 and this lack of economy may well prove their undoing.
The chaser won all three matches so far at the Wankhede, with plenty to spare. However before reading too much into that, note the first innings scores were well below the historic par at this ground. None reached 160, with damage done by the new ball. Normally 175 is a minimum here.
Are we due a high Wankhede score?
Indeed, in the ten matches prior to this season here, both sides scored 180 on four occasions. 180 was breached in the first innings six times and twice, both sides scored 200. Such high-scoring outcomes are now available at much bigger odds - Both Teams to Score 180 is enhanced to 3/1. Take it. There is plenty of powerful batting on display.
Also enhanced as usual are two opening batsmen - Jos Buttler and Faf du Plessis are both boosted to 13/5 to top-score for their respective sides. Neither appeal given the ground trends, which have seen openers struggle.
Instead, try some expert finishers as the Wankhede boundaries are always vulnerable in the second half of the innings. For RCB, 11/1 about Dinesh Karthik and 33/1 about Wanindu Hasaranga very much appeal. To a lesser extent, 7/1 about Shimron Hetmeyer is a fair offer for Royals.
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