Two perennial strugglers face off in the second match of IPL 2018. With the host unveiling a mostly new line-up, Paul Krishnamurty is backing a Delhi Daredevils side he says are on the up...
"Our betting market rates this a perfect 50/50 match but I would much rather be on Delhi. They've got the batting depth and power to go very big at Mohali and this new-look Kings XI side are a risky proposition for now."
Back Delhi Daredevils 5u @ [2.0]
Kings XI Punjab v Delhi Daredevils
Sunday, 11:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Kings XI Punjab
The outright betting at the start of every IPL is always wide-open and this year is no exception, with all eight teams trading between [4.7] and [10.5]. These two are among the outsiders, at [9.6] and [9.8] respectively - doubtless based on dire recent returns. Neither Kings XI or Delhi have ever won the title and between them, have only made the final four once in the last six renewals.
Punjab did actually finish last year on a relative high note, winning four of their last six to miss the play-offs by only one place - a big improvement on 2016 and 2015 when finishing bottom. There is little sense in making the argument for continuity, though, as this line-up is virtually unrecognisable.
The most notable arrivals are skipper Ravi Ashwin, IPL legend Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh, Aaron Finch, Andrew Tye, Lokesh Rahul and Karun Nair. No shortage of quality, therefore, even if Gayle and Yuvraj are past their best, but can they gel quickly?
Daredevils too have endured a grim run, finishing no better than sixth since winning the group stage in 2012. However as Ed Hawkins argues in his must-read team-by-team guide, Delhi's strategy of backing young Indian talent was always a long-term one and should pay dividends soon.
On paper at least, this now looks a very well-balanced side, blending youth, experience and overseas talent. For openers, they can choose between IPL stalwart Gautam Gambhir, Jason Roy or T20 specialist Colin Munro. Any combination could be explosive, setting it up nicely for progressive Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant. In Glenn Maxwell and Chris Morris, they have two devastating finishers.
Trent Boult and Mohammed Shami head up a fairly strong bowling unit. The loss of Kagiso Rabada may not turn out as bad as it sounds, as the precocious South African quick was very expensive last term.
Delhi were bowled out for a pitiful 67 in this fixture last year but generally the IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali is conducive to big scores. In 11 matches over the past two seasons, 175 was breached six times and that Delhi disaster was one of only two first innings totals below 150.
There's never a better time for big scores than the start of a tournament on fresh pitches so I'll be looking to back 170 plus at around [2.4] and at least one higher band at very big odds. Sunrisers managed 207 here last year.
Without any notable advantage to batting first or second, we need not worry too much about the toss and can focus instead of the merits of each side. Our betting market rates this a perfect 50/50 match but I would much rather be on Delhi. They've got the batting depth and power to go very big at Mohali and this new-look Kings XI side are a risky proposition for now.
The trio most likely to open - Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch and Lokesh Rakul - are vying for favouritism here at 5/2, 3/1 and 7/2 respectively. Rakul is likeliest to play, rather than using two overseas picks and, if so, 7/2 is a fair price for a Test-class opener in T20.
Plenty to choose from here, with Jason Roy heading the market at 11/4 ahead of Shreyas Iyer at 10/3. Huge scores are possible during the death overs at Mohali, though, so it may be worth taking a punt on a finisher. Chris Morris, a 16/1 chance, can be absolutely devastating and is always liable to be promoted up the order in the right circumstances.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty
*(a 'unit' is a typical bet - if you'd normally bet, say, £10, the recommendation here is £50)