IPL Tips: Openers and favourites holding sway so far

Shikhar Dhawan
Dhawan has been on song

With four games gone for each side in IPL 2021, Ed Hawkins assesses what we've learnt so far from a betting standpoint and highlights some angles to take advantage of...

"There have been only two occasions when a team in the 1.608/13 zone has not won - Mumbai against Bangalore in the opener and Mumbai against Delhi"

Top bat challenge

A trend that you may have spotted so far in this IPL is how opening batsmen have dominated the top runscorer markets in individual matches. Twas ever thus.

So far there have been 17 openers who have top scored for their team with one tie (Mayank Agarwal and Shahrukh Khan for Punjab against Sunrisers). It's a win rate of 56% for the openers.

Is it a winning strategy, then? No. The problem with openers, of course, is that there are four of them. And shelling out on each of them over the course of the tournament is unlikely to mean that you are up overall.

Average odds of 3/1 would not have been enough and we know that Shikhar Dhawan, Delhi's Mr Prolific, has been going off shorter.

The resolution is to pick and choose the best. Or leave out the worst.

Perversely, the Bismarck of the tournament is Virat Kohli who has failed four times in a row, which raises the question whether you go big on him finally doing the business in game five.

Taking a view that the likes of Rajasthan's Manan Vohra (42 runs in four), Prithvi Shaw (just three wins in the last three years), Rohit Sharma (barely winning 20% of the time) and KKR's Shubman Gill (averaging 17) are to be avoided may help.

There are five openers who rate as pure value on how often they win as opposed to their price. Dhawan, KL Rahul, Faf Du Plessis, Quinton de Kock and Nitish Rana.

Favourites in charge

Another strategy that isn't quite working is opposing the favourite. It's seven wins out of 16 for the outsider, and that includes a five-match streak for the jollies. Over a three-year study that is a rare occurrence.

To one-unit level stakes, punters blindly backing the bigger odds would be down to the tune of 0.51 units. Is this the Bangalore effect in hard numbers? Possibly as they could always be relied upon to slip up at skinny odds. They were the kings of the 1.608/13 lay.

Instead, Bangalore are running away with the regular season and despite them dominating the Rajasthan Royals in their last outing by ten wickets, seasoned IPL watchers would still have been surprised that they didn't tank. Perhaps they are the real deal after all.

There have been only two occasions when a team in the 1.608/13 zone has not won - Mumbai against Bangalore in the opener and Mumbai against Delhi.

Venues switch

The IPL moves on to different venues next week, giving punters the challenge of deciphering the new surfaces quickly and forgetting the bias of Mumbai and Chennai.

Ahmedabad will be a watch and learn exercise as it is a new stadium and we only have the India-England Test series and five Syed Mushtaq Trophy domestic matches as a guide. For the record, though, 160 was busted twice in those five.

Delhi should be easier to read, though. And the good news is that, behind Chennai, it is the second most spin-friendly surface of IPL venue. It does not, however, make it on a par with the Chidambarram for domination of bowlers. Delhi is on the same level as Bangalore, for example, on boundary percentage.

There are signs that the Kotla is a bat-first and defend venue. This is where it does match-up well with Chennai.

Punjab woe

Teams are almost a third of their way through their group stage fixtures. For some it is now or never to make an assault on the play-offs and they should be close to working out what their best XI is.

However, Punjab Kings and Sunrisers appear to have gone backwards in this regard. Punjab abandoned the XI which won them their first match against Rajasthan as soon as they lost. They went on make three more changes after their second defeat - and lost for a third time against Sunrisers.

They are in a terrible state. Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith have been dropped and against Sunrisers they picked only three full-time bowlers. This piled pressure on the batting line-up which responded with 120 all out.

Sunrisers have also chopped and changed. Two changes, four changes, three changes. Have the finally found a formula after beating Kings? Doubtful. A middle order of Kedar Jadav and Vijay Shankar looks like a recipe for continuing underwhelming performance.

A word on Rajasthan. Surprisingly you can still get as big as 23/10 with Sportsbook that they finish bottom. They are running out of players after injuries and departures and are pinning their hopes entirely on Jofra Archer returning. It's not a smart strategy.

**

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