Lucknow Super Giants v Gujurat Titans
Tuesday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Whoever wins this top of the table clash will be guaranteed a play-off spot, and highly likely to finish in the top-two. The latter target means a critical advantage - two cracks at reaching the final. Both of these new franchises are tied on 16 points and the betting is exactly even, with 2.01/1 available about either side.
Such odds may be fair based on their efforts throughout the season, but there's no question about which side has the momentum. Lucknow have won four on the bounce. Gujarat have lost their last two. Furthermore, most of the margins involved in those results were one-sided.
LSG now favourites for the title
First to Lucknow, tipped for the title in my last preview and previously on Cricket...Only Bettor when available at 7.06/1. They've since assumed favouritism at 3.711/4 and I wouldn't deter anyone from betting at those odds.
It is impossible to argue with Lucknow's credentials. Their top-three batsmen have contributed more than 1,100 runs. Skipper K.L. Rahul is second on the tournament list, despite a slow start and a couple of ducks. Quinton de Kock is sixth, Deepak Hooda 14th, despite often batting lower down. Chances for the rest have therefore been limited but, if necessary, they have real depth, batting down to at least nine.
They have five bowlers with strong IPL pedigree, including two spinners, yet all are being eclipsed by one of the finds of the tournament. In five matches, Mohsin Khan has taken nine wickets at an economy of 5.35. He can bat, too.
Titans have hit a bad run
Given they have the same number of points, it would be churlish to question Gujarat's credentials but their success has come as a surprise to me. While their bowling is dominated by world-class trio Rashid Khan, Lockie Ferguson and Mohammed Shami, their batting pales by comparison to these opponents.
Hardik Pandya and Shubman Gill aside, I'm not convinced the rest would walk into many other IPL line-ups. At least on that front, Wriddhiman Saha may have solved the problem of finding an opening partner for Gill.
It must be a concern that their last two results were defeat to bottom-feeders Mumbai and a thrashing by Punjab. I simply don't price this one up as an even contest. Lucknow must represent value at even money.
Does the toss matter at Pune?
Usually of course, one should be wary of betting pre-toss but in this case, I really doubt how much it matters. In this season's 11 matches at the MCA International Stadium, Pune, every toss winner elected to field. Yet only three went on to win. The last five matches were won by the team batting first and all by comprehensive margins. (Twice by Lucknow).
Regarding 1st Innings Runs, I'm wary of betting before seeing how the pitch plays in the early overs. There is a marked difference between the strips in use. I think 175 is a very good total and note the three successful chases were all below that target.
The Total Sixes line is Over/Under 14.5. 'Overs' landed in seven of the 11 matches but beware that these numbers are liable to fall as the tournament progresses and pitches wear.
Rahul must be value at enhanced odds
Regarding Top Team Runscorer, the two #OddsBoosts are for K.L. Rahul and Shubman Gill - enhanced to 11/4 and 3/1 respectively. The former is a no-brainer at these odds. Backing them in each IPL match over the years would definitely have yielded a profit. He'll be itching for another big score after Saturday's duck, too.
For Titans, try a speculative punt on Alzarri Joseph at 100/1. He's been batting among the tail but has often been promoted during the CPL or for the West Indies. Much stranger things have happened and we could end up on a fantastic value bet.
Finally for Man of the Match, split a unit stake on two Lucknow bowlers. Take 20/1 about the aforementioned Mohsin Khan, who won this on his penultimate start. Also 14/1 is big about Avesh Khan, given he's won the award twice in nine starts this term, following on from an excellent 2021 season with Delhi.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty