We're down to three teams, as Kolkata and Delhi face off for a place in the final. Paul Krishnamurty says the toss is pivotal, spinners should go well again and recommends backing unders on runs and boundaries...
"The best betting strategies at Sharjah have involved runs and boundaries...it was possible to lay 150 or more at 1.558/15 and 145 or more at 1.42/5 before yesterday's first innings."
Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Capitals
Wednesday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Following the first two play-offs, the second Qualifier will be between Kolkata and Delhi, with Chennai Super Kings awaiting in the final.
Can Delhi repeat last year's sequence?
There is a clear sense of deja vu. Last year, Delhi lost the first qualifier and faced a resurgent Sunrisers Hyderabad, who had made the play-offs from nowhere having traded well in excess of 50.049/1 on Betfair's outright market. Kolkata were matched earlier this season at 60.059/1 and looked no-hopers upon the resumption. If the sequence is repeated, Delhi will prevail.
No doubt KKR are on a roll but these match odds surely do a disservice to Delhi, pricing them as 2.0621/20 outsiders compared to 1.9420/21 for KKR. Delhi were evidently the best side in the group stages, finishing six points ahead of these opponents. It is incredibly harsh to hold a couple of narrow defeats against them - one in a dead rubber for them - after losing both tosses.
Winning toss and chasing is critical
The significance of the toss should not be underestimated. KKR managed to defy it in the Eliminator, but only because Virat Kohli inexplicably batted first. That was only the second such decision from a toss winner in nine matches, and the other was explained by Mumbai's need to win by a huge run-rate. Further fuel to the doubts about the quality of Kohli's captaincy, as we have discussed on Cricket...Only Bettor?
There's no question batting second has offered a big advantage in recent weeks, as expected towards the end of the season. Of the last 20 matches, 16 went to the chaser.
Scores have been consistently low at Sharjah
Moreover it is a no-brainer at Sharjah, where scores have been repeatedly low. In the nine matches played here, only three first innings reached 140. The two above 160 were both winning totals and 150 is probably competitive. It simply has to make sense to chase in this scenario, knowing what is required.
Counter to my pro-Delhi arguments laid out above, the venue offers the strongest case for KKR. They won all three matches played here, including against Delhi (who won their other match at Sharjah).
Narine back to his best and thriving here
Sunil Narine was man of the match on that occasion and the West Indian repeated the trick yesterday with a superb 4-21. No doubt he's bowling better than in years and the case for taking 12/1 about a hat-trick, or 10/3 for Top KKR wicket-taker, is obvious.
Note that Axar Patel also produced a man of the match performance here, taking 3-15, against Mumbai, re-affirming the advantage for spinners. He's a 4/1 chance to be Top Delhi Wicket Taker and 16/1 for Man of the Match.
Back unders on runs and fours
The best betting strategies at Sharjah have involved runs and boundaries. Despite the aforementioned stats, it was possible to lay 150 or more at 1.558/15 and 145 or more at 1.42/5 before yesterday's first innings. Indeed, that has been the general mark of late and I expect it will be so again. Take both and if the odds aren't available, leave an order up in-play. Scoring has been much better in the early overs so it will likely get matched.
In the Total Fours market, Under 25 has landed in all nine matches at Sharjah. The Ten or Fewer line in Total Sixes has landed in six of nine. There are no odds up yet for either market but keep those stats firmly in mind.
Finally in the Top Team Runscorer markets, Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill are enhanced to 3/1 and 10/3 for Delhi and KKR respectively.
One bet appeals here and its than man again. Sunil Narine is 20/1 to top-score for KKR, despite batting at five last time and hitting a pivotal 26 off 15. Back him for that and man of the match, for which Axar Patel is also a selection. Again, he is a cracking finisher and a powerful late effort could well swing what will likely be a low-scoring affair.
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