Mumbai Indians v Delhi Daredevils: Trust the defending champions to open their account
With both sides still searching for their first points, Saturday morning's clash is a critical encounter for both Mumbai and Delhi. Paul Krishnamurty expects the hosts to prove too good...
"Pre-toss odds of [1.75] are hardly exciting in the random sphere of T20 but it's hard to make a case for Mumbai being any bigger. Their bowling unit looked in fine shape when nearly saving a lost cause against Sunrisers on Thursday and will on occasion be lethal."
Back Mumbai Indians 6u @ [1.75]
Mumbai Indians v Delhi Daredevils
Saturday, 11:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
One week into IPL 2018 and the reigning champions are already under pressure, having lost their first two games. The fact that both defeats were narrow, coming after losing the toss and being forced to bat first, shows just how tiny the gap between success and failure is in T20 cricket.
Whilst that start really makes this home fixture, against a fellow winless struggler, a must-win affair, we must avoid over-reacting to early results. Mumbai's bowling attack, boosted by new precocious spinner Mayank Markande, should prove as strong as ever and we know their power batsmen can be devastating, especially at the Wankhede. The likes of Evin Lewis and Rohit Sharma will produce match-winning performances at some stage and Jasprit Bumrah and Mustafizur Rahman are a pairing that every other team will fear during the death overs.
Personnel-wise, fairly similar comments apply to the tournament outsiders. There's plenty of quality throughout a well-balanced squad but their start is in keeping with this franchise's relentless failure in IPL.
The first defeat to Kings XI came after their finishers struggled to build on the platform set by Gautam Gambhir. Forgiveable, because the likes of Rishabh Pant, Chris Morris and Dan Christian will deliver at some point. The second, failing to chase a small D/L target, less so. Their key bowlers have proved costly - Trent Boult is going at 8.42, Mohammed Shami 9.42, Amit Mishra 11.5.
First Innings Runs
The key to scoring at the Wankhede is retaining wickets in the first half of the innings, enabling what can be a very productive slog at the death. Mumbai's power-hitters have regularly made hay with these boundaries and we have seen two scores of 230 plus in the last three years.
Those huge totals are, however, an outlier. 12 of the last 13 first innings totals in IPL here were below 180 and, at the other end of the scale, only one was below 140. My bets here will depend on the toss. I reckon Mumbai's openers are due a big score, so will probably back 170 plus if they bat first but their bowlers could be too good, and economical, for Delhi.
With both sides still looking for their first point, this is a huge game and the losers will have a mountain to climb. Under those circumstances, preference must be for the side with tournament pedigree and home advantage.
Pre-toss odds of [1.75] are hardly exciting in the random sphere of T20 but it's hard to make a case for Mumbai being any bigger. Their bowling unit looked in fine shape when nearly saving a lost cause against Sunrisers on Thursday and will on occasion be lethal. I'll be surprised if Delhi can score enough against them to stay competitive on this ground.
IPL legend Rohit Sharma is favourite to top-score for Mumbai at 13/5 with opening partner Evin Lewis next best at 3/1. Both are due. Never write off big-hitting finishers in the middle order here though either, as vast totals are possible at the death. On that front, Kieron Pollard and Ben Cutting are eyecatching at 12/1 and 16/1 respectively.
Delhi's favourite is Kiwi T20 specialist Colin Munro at 13/5, ahead of Gautam Gambhir at 3/1. The latter - a reliable bet over the years for KKR - delivered again on his Delhi debut, and is preferred. If you're looking for an outsider, Dan Christian is huge at 40/1. It isn't out of the question that a middle-order batsman wins this market on a fairly low total, after early Mumbai wickets.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty
IPL 2018 Profit/Loss:
Back Mumbai Indians 6u @ [1.75]