CSK are two-from-two but it's been tight and James Buttler thinks they will edge out a competitive Kings XI Punhab side in this one...
"Both CSK wins, over Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, came with only one ball to spare. So neither win was emphatic, but teams win trophies by edging the close matches and CSK are getting into good habits."
Kings XI Punjab v Chennai Super Kings
Sunday April 15, 15:30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Kings XI Punjab
KXIP recruited well at the IPL 2018 auction and after winning their first match against the Delhi Daredevils, thanks to KL Rahul belting the fastest fifty in IPL history (14 balls), they appeared on course for their best season.
A second-game defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore doesn't seem to have dented KXIP's aspirations this season. RCB got home with three balls to spare. Rahul again top scored with a rapid 47 and a bowling unit that includes Ravi Ashwin, AJ Tye, Axar Patel and Mohit Sharma cannot be dismissed.
Chennai Super Kings
CSK are two-from-two at the start of IPL 2018 and the manner of those wins will have pleased captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Both CSK wins, over Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, came with only one ball to spare. So neither win was emphatic, but teams win trophies by edging the close matches and CSK are getting into good habits.
Of course, Dhoni's tactical experience is key, but when Dwayne Bravo won their first match with a 30-ball 68 and Shane Watson opened up with 42 from 19 balls against KKR it showed that the experienced heads in the CSK side are up for the challenge.
Add in Sam Billings 56 from 23 balls to get CSK to the verge of victory in the second match and it shows that the franchise has some talented youngsters too. Billings has always been a source of frustration, often scoring pretty 20s and then getting out. There are signs that the Englishman is starting to turn those 20s into scores that win games.
The only negative for CSK so far was Andre Russell's 88 run blitz for KKR which saw the bowlers concede 11 sixes in the West Indian's 36-ball unbeaten stay. But to have still won after conceding 202 runs to KKR is a major boost for Dhoni's men.
There have been 18 matches between these sides and CSK have won 11 of them, including the last three encounters. But remember there has been a two season gap since CSK last played the Punjab side and a lot has changed since then.
I still fancy CSK to beat Punjab, but this game could be just as close as their first two. It's a small stakes play on CSK at [1.89] and as I think this one could be tight, a Super Over is not out of the question.
KL Rahul has been explosive at the top of the order so far, but despite his brilliance I am always reluctant to back a player in a T20 at a price as short as 23/10.
With Aaron Finch and Yuvraj Singh yet to fire at IPL 2018 I am going with Karun Nair in this market. His price of 9/2 is too big and therefore worth a play. A small stakes nibble on Marcus Stoinis at 10/1 could also bear fruit in a market where the out of form big names are filling up the short prices in the market.
Suresh Raina will miss a game for CSK for the first time in the franchise's history after picking up a calf injury against KKR. He is a big miss having scored 580 runs in the fixture - comfortably the most by any player on either side.
Without him in the ranks I'm tempted by Murali Vigay at 10/3 or Dhoni at 4/1. Sam Billings is growing as a player and, if he gets in, a nibble on him at 7/1 could be a wise move.
Again I say it! Always a play in any T20 and the price of 7/4 is worth playing in every game.
James Buttler at IPL 2018
Units Staked 6.00
Units Returned 5.85
Profit/Loss: -0.15 units
AT IPL 2017
Units Staked 47.00
3 units on Chennai Super Kings to win @ [1.89]
1 unit on Karun Nair to be top KXIP Batsman @ 9/2
1 unit on MS Dhoni to be Top CSK @ 4/1
1 unit on Over 1.5 Total Match Run Outs @ 7/4