Two of the IPL's biggest names face off on Tuesday at the Wankhede, in urgent need of a win to revive a flagging campaign. Paul Krishnamurty is backing the hosts...
"Not only do Mumbai have home advantage but look better equipped for what looks set to be a high-scoring game. In such circumstances, I would always rather back the more economical bowling unit."
Back Mumbai Indians 5u @ [2.04]
Mumbai Indians v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Tuesday, 15:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Without question, the biggest surprise of this IPL campaign has been the atrocious start from the defending champions. After three straight defeats, the most successful franchise in the history of Indian T20 cricket are in serious danger of missing the play-offs for what would be only the second time in nine seasons. From here, they must win at least seven, probably eight, of their last 11 matches.
The cause of each defeat has been abject failure in the death overs batting first. On Saturday they were on target for an invincible total around 230 before slumping to 194. This despite an array of world-class finishing power including Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and the Pandya brothers.
However it would be folly to read too much into it. All three results could easily have been different - going down to at least the penultimate ball. Those batsmen are bound to deliver at some stage and their bowling unit remains one of the most fearsome in the competition.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
With only one win from three, the pre-tournament favourites are barely faring any better, although this is in keeping with their perennial underachievement. RCB may always boast a stellar batting line-up but they've never won an IPL and only made two of the last six play-offs.
Even after squad changes, Virat Kohli's side looks as unbalanced as ever. A luxury of batting riches hampered by an ordinary bowling unit - none of whom have an economy below 8.0, with only spinners Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal going for less than 9.0. They arrive fresh from conceding 217 against Rajasthan.
First Innings Runs
194 wasn't enough here on Saturday, with Jason Roy and Evin Lewis both demonstrating the damage batsmen can do at the Wankhede Stadium. That 230 that Mumbai were rated par to achieve mid-innings has been reached twice in the last three years. Par is nevertheless somewhat lower, with 11 of the last 14 innings landing in between the 140 and 180 bands.
Hopefully that will mean 175 plus will be available around [2.0] because I am definitely an overs backer. For RCB, Kohli, De Villiers, McCullum and De Kock could clear these boundaries at will and their bowlers are extremely vulnerable. Mumbai have simply too much class and power to not deliver soon.
In what is rated a virtually even match-up, Mumbai must be the bet. Not only do they have home advantage but look better equipped for what looks set to be a high-scoring game. In such circumstances, I would always rather back the more economical bowling unit. Few teams will destroy Bumrah and Rahman at the death and their bowling has greater depth.
I'm also very keen on Mumbai to score Over 7.5 Sixes at 5/6. They hit seven against Delhi - a better bowling unit - despite nothing at the death. There were 32 maximums in the two matches at the Wankhede this season, so eight is evidently realistic and this ground has seen much higher. One match here last season produced 26 maximums.
Following a quickfire 48 against Delhi, Evin Lewis is favourite for the hosts, closely followed by Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav at 3/1. Given that Sharma relegated himself to four in the last match, his odds make little appeal. Further down 19/1 about Kieron Pollard is eyecatching but I suspect this will be won by one of the top-three.
Virtually a four-way tie for favouritism here with Virat Kohli and Brendon McCullum egdging out South African duo AB De Villiers and Quinten De Kock. If forced to pick, Kohli would be the one but this is never an easy market to predict.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty
IPL 2018 Profit/Loss:
Back Mumbai Indians 5u @ [2.04]
Back Mumbai Indians to score 7.5 or more sixes 6u @ 5/6