Delhi Capitals v Royal Challengers Bangalore: Runs hard to come by first up at Ahmedabad

Delhi Capitals cricketer Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan has been in scintillating form for Delhi

Paul Krishnamurty says the toss will be pivotal in this clash of the table-toppers and advises backing openers for the team batting second...

"Par is around 160-165...I'll set what could prove an ambitious lay target at 2.01/1 on the 180 or More 1st Innings Runs band."

Place order to lay 180 or more 1st Innings Runs 4u @ 2.01/1

Delhi Capitals v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Tuesday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

There's a rising chance that today's match will be a precurser to the final, as both Delhi and RCB are among the three teams tied at the top of the points table. The gap to the fourth placed teams is now four points, equivalent to two wins.

Delhi are the new IPL favourites

Delhi are now favourites to win the title at 4.216/5, compared to 5.04/1 for RCB. This follows the former winning a Super Over and the latter losing their 100% record in humiliating fashion to the other leaders, Chennai.

While I remain keen on Delhi in general, the market switch could be a slight over-reaction. RCB's fate turned on conceding 37 runs off the final over - a remarkable moment that said more about Ravi Jadeja's brilliance than Harshal Patel's death bowling. After all, he'd starred in previous matches.

Don't dismiss RCB after one bad day

Critics, however, will doubtless observe that their best results came at low-scoring Chennai while their bowlers were hammered at high-scoring Mumbai. This would indeed fit their historic tendency, but I'm not drawing that conclusion yet. They have looked better balanced than ever.

Delhi meanwhile have already beaten champions Mumbai and fellow leaders Chennai. The only game they lost was to Rajasthan, when setting an absymal target after losing early wickets.

That blip aside, Capitals have done nothing to temper my confidence in them. Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw are doing a sterling job, respectively averaging 52 and 33, at 142 and 159 strike rates from the openers slot. That's a formidable platform for their explosive middle-order to capitalise upon.

Another low total at Ahmedabad?

We are of course dealing with a new ground. Ahmedabad hosted the five-match series between India and England, with 1st Innings totals ranging from 124 to 224.

For today's Punjab v KKR game, the run line started around 175 but that never looked realistic as Punjab managed just 123 even after a late flourish. Reminiscent of India's 124 in the first match, when Mark Wood and Jofra Archer dominated on a slow pitch.

Scores did improve during that series. 158 and 164 were successfully chased. 185 and 224 defended. Clearly there's a wide variance depending on the pitch used, but I reckon par is around 160-165. It is hard to predict where the run line will start but I'll set what could prove an ambitious lay target at 2.01/1 on the 180 or More 1st Innings Runs band.

Dew factor means advantage to chasers

A notable clue is that there was plenty of dew around before the first innings finished. The team batting second will enjoy a big advantage here, so predicting a winner before the toss is fraught with unnecessary risk.

There are #OddsBoosts available for both favourites. Virat Kohli is 12/5 for RCB, Shikhar Dhawan also 12/5 for Delhi.

Less popular openers look value

Given the fair chance this will require a low chase in easy conditions, there is good sense in backing openers. However I suspect it pays better in the long-term to try these players in the Top Match Batsman or Man of the Match markets. The latter is heavily biased towards batsmen.

My plan is to back the lesser opener for each side in both markets. Both Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal are enjoying good seasons and will win their share of top bat awards. The latter is averaging 57 at 158 strike-rate.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

Paul's 2021 IPL Profit/Loss

-2 units

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