Kings XI Punjab v Chennai Super Kings
Sunday May 5, 11:30
Live on BT Sport and Star Gold (Sky channel 729)
Kings XI lacking power play
A seven-wicket defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday has left Kings XI with only a ridiculously slim chance of making the Play-Offs. It would take a commanding win against CSK and all of Sunrisers, Kolkata and Rajasthan losing their matches. It's a script that simply isn't going to be acted out. With Saturday's games to come they may well be out before the coin is tossed.
Skipper Ravi Ashwin has admitted that his side have no chance and blamed a lack of bite in the power-play overs for his team's demise. KXIP have been expensive in the first six overs with the ball and not got the starts with the bat they have done in previous years. Ashwin singled out openers KL Rahul and Chris Gayle for not delivering with the bat. It`s a bit unfair on Rahul who has scored 522 runs and is second in the race for the Orange Cap.
Ashwin was also disappointed with Andrew Tye for not following his 2018 Orange Cap success up. In short, the experienced men have not performed. Ashwin could include himself in that bracket.
Looking for positives, talented West Indian left-hander Nicholas Pooran has started to looked the real deal and England's Sam Curran has only increased his glowing reputation. The Surrey all-rounder is top quality and he'd be in any other country's World Cup squad.
CSK look to talisman Dhoni
MS Dhoni shrugged off injury to play for CSK against Delhi Capitals last time out. His team had already nailed down a final four berth yet MSD was determined to ensure a top two finish and therefore two bites at a route to the IPL final. Imran Tahir's 4-12, Dhoni's unbeaten 44 from 22 balls and Suresh Raina's half century swept CSK to a commanding 80-run win.
CSK are so much better when captain Dhoni plays. It's not only that he has scored 358 runs at an average of 119.33 and strike-rate of 142. He is the glue that holds CSK together, he lifts the crowd and his teammates. Without him they can be inconsistent and without him, I wouldn't have betting faith. The most followed franchise in the IPL have been excellent so far and one more win secures them top spot. With MSD you'd be a brave man to back against them.
Tahir has bowled well and adds character to the competition - his celebrations are incredible. Deepak Chahar and Harbhajan Singh have also added value with the ball. With the bat they are less decisive. Shane Watson continues to blow more cold than hot and Kedar Jadhav has disappointed.
CSK to win is the only way to play this match
You'd expect KXIP to want to chase in Mohali to give themselves any chance of retrieving a Net Run-Rate should other key teams lose. But the chasing team has only won four of the last 15 games played in Mohali (although KKR did successfully chase 183 early this season). It`s a flat track and a score of 200 and a century in this game at 17/2 is not a bad way in.
KXIP would have to batter CSK to stand any chance but CSK lead this encounter 13-8 and have won five of the last six games played. Even if they have no chance of progression, Ashwin will want to show his supporters that he tried. This could lead to reckless cricket against the tournament's frontrunner. It's not a recipe that makes me want to feast on the 2.0621/20 available on a Kings XI win. CSK want to win to top the table and the price of 1.865/6 on them to take this match is very backable.
The Kings XI needing to win big there is pressure on their top order, which hasn't fired consistently this tournament. KL Rahul has been excellent, but if he and Chris Gayle perish early, the likes of Nicholas Pooran at 9/2 and Sam Curran 11/1 are the men to rebuild and potentially claim this market. Both are in fine form and it's worth playing half-stakes on each.
For CSK the man to back is always Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The captain fantastic lives and breathes this Chennai franchise and always seems to come good whether the chips are down or not. Suresh Raina who has always been their star batsman has lost some of his pixie dust, although he did top score last game, and the rest of the top order or much of a muchness. Dhoni takes my full-stakes play at 9/2.
The Man of the Match markets have provided great value throughout the IPL. It's an opportunity to have a fun bet that lasts the whole game at an appealing price. My picks for this match are KL Rahul 12/1, Sam Curran 12/1 and MS Dhoni 9/1. All three are form men.
Follow James on Twitter @cricket_badger