Monday's match involves two sides rocked by the loss of their Aussie captains following the ball tampering scandal. Paul Krishnamurty argues that Royals are better equipped to cope than Sunrisers...
"Backing T20 outsiders generally makes sense. That looks very much the case with Rajasthan, given both their own potential and serious doubts about the Sunrisers batting line-up."
Back Rajasthan 4u @ [2.24]
Sunrisers Hyderabad v Rajasthan Royals
Monday, 15:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Champions in 2016 and third in last year's group stage, there must be a huge doubt that Sunrisers can compete to anything like the same standard. David Warner not only supplied almost 1500 runs in those two series, but was an inspirational captain.
Their batting consequently looks light and highly dependent on Shikhar Dhawan for fast starts. However the squad does contain a number of explosive finishers and Sunrisers usually boast one of the best bowling units. In Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, they have the top wicket-takers in the latest BBL and IPL, and the two market leaders in our Top IPL Wicket Taker market.
Again the loss of a disgraced Australian casts a long shadow over Rajasthan's IPL return, but as Ed Hawkins points out in his team-by-team guide, it might not be so disastrous given the alternatives. A team with a reputation for producing domestic talent has certainly invested big on an impressive array of overseas stars.
If their BBL star signings can transfer that form then there's no reason the first IPL winners can't at least reach the play-offs again, with once talismanic captain Shane Warne back as a mentor. They won't struggle to find four overseas players in Smith's absence and may be under-rated at [11.5] to win IPL 2018.
The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium is very much the type of track where we need to see at least a detailed pitch report before choosing which way to go on runs. Historically, low scores are more common here than most IPL grounds. In 15 first innings over the past two campaigns, only five reached 150. 129 even proved enough here in the last final.
On the other hand, we also saw a trio of scores last season ranging between 191 and 209, including 207 in the opening match. I do expect there to be a 200 plus total early on so that could be worth a punt at [8.0] plus as an opening trade.
It is dangerous to form strong opinions at this early stage, after so many squad changes, and backing T20 outsiders generally makes sense. That looks very much the case with Rajasthan, given both their own potential and serious doubts about the Sunrisers batting line-up.
New skipper Kane Williamson and Shikhar Dhawan share favouritism here at 11/4, followed by new recruit Alex Hales at 10/3. Of the trio, Dhawan is preferred. He's got bags of T20 pedigree and has stepped up when Warner has been absent or failed before.
D'Arcy Short - one of James Pacheco's quintet to follow in this IPL - heads the Royals list at 11/4. A fair price for one of those openers who could settle the market in a handful of overs. Likely partner Rahul Tripathi is a 4/1 chance. I would definitely rather be on a top order batsman here, because Hyderabad will likely be very economical at the death.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty
IPL 2018 Profit/Loss:
Stakes: 5 units
Returns: 0 units
Back Rajasthan 4u @ [2.24]