The increasingly impressive Ruturaj Gaikwad and the incredibly consistent Lungi Ngidi can shine with bat and ball as CSK rack up another win, says Jamie Pacheco.
"But even beyond the two more games that they’ve won more than Mumbai from the same number of matches, CSK have looked a better side. More in-form players, better balance, greater confidence, winning games more easily."
Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings
Saturday May 1 15.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Chahar decisive, Bumrah unplayable
Their win in midweek was much more like the Mumbai of old. A good bowling display in which their death bowlers did their job well was followed by a pretty clinical chase.
Quinton de Kock found some form after a few dodgy innings with an unbeaten 70 and Krunal Pandya played his part with a quick 39 off 26, as they beat Rajasthan with nine balls to spare.
De Kock was man of the match but it could easily have been Rahul Chahar, who was the only bowler in the middle overs showing control. He took two wickets, dismissing both openers, and if he hadn't, Mumbai would have been chasing a far bigger score.
Jasprit Bumrah was another worthy candidate. He was virtually unplayable, returning figures of 1-15 off four overs.
Nathan Coulter-Nile should get another go despite going wicketless.
Likely XI: Sharma, de Kock, S Yadav, Hardik, Pollard, Krunal, Coulter-Nile, Jayant Yadav, Chahar, Bumrah, Boult.
Opening partnership a big boost for CSK
A slight change of personnel with Moeen Ali back and Lungi Ngidi coming in for Imran Tahir, produced the same result. They were far too good for SRH in the week, chasing 172 with minimum of fuss thanks to Faf du Plessis' 56 and Ruturaj Gaikwad's 75.
Earlier it had been a good CSK effort with the ball. Six bowlers shared the overs and on this occasion it was Ngidi who took two wickets, a reminder of how consistent he is when he's picked.
Chennai are going along very nicely and have already solved one of their problems from last year: a pedestrian and fruitless opening partnership. Du Plessis and Gaikwad have played beautifully together this time round and there's no reason why they can't go on to win the whole thing.
Likely XI: Gaikwad, du Plessis, Ali, Raina, Rayudu, Jadeja, Dhoni, Curran, Chahar, Shakur, Ngidi.
Table-toppers the better all-round side
Both Rajasthan and SRH posted exactly 171 batting first and both lost. Freakishly, on both occasions the target was chased with exactly nine balls to spare.
So the (small) trend is for chasing to be the better option and for 170 not being enough.
CSK have been good for us so far this IPL. Twice we backed them, once as outsiders against RCB, twice they won.
We have an excellent chance to side with them here once more as outsiders (2.2). With Mumbai 18-12 up over the years and remarkably having won five of the last six between them, that's why they're favourites, despite what's happened so far this term.
But even beyond the two more games that they've won more than Mumbai from the same number of matches, CSK have looked a better side. More in-form players, better balance, greater confidence, winning games more easily.
As mentioned already, the sample is too small for this season to be sure that chasing is the better bet here but I will say CSK look better equipped to do either. They've won three batting first and two chasing so that looks to be the case.
Go with CSK.
Gaikwad over du Plessis
Du Plessis is on 270 runs for the tournament, Gaikwad on 192. So separated by 78 runs but I'm not sure that's reason enough for du Plessis to be such a stronger favourite. He was originally 23/10 and was then boosted to 11/4 but even then, I might just about prefer the 10/3 on Gaikwad.
Raina has won once, Jadeja once, Ali once, du Plessis twice and Gaikwad once, just the other day.
So wins on CSK top bat have actually been quite well distributed but Gaikwad is hitting the ball particularly well and with a slight trend for most of the runs being scored at the top of the order here in Delhi, it may not be worth looking too far beyond the openers.
Gaikwad's record is getting better by the match. He's averaging 39.6 across 12 IPL games with five fifties. Carry on like that and he'll be the next KL Rahul or Shikhar Dhawan.
On price, side with Gaikwad.
Why is Ngidi bigger this time?
We also don't want to be missing out on the 7/2 about Ngidi for top bowler. Having won last time out at 3/1 (when he was already overpriced), he's available at 7.2 this time round. Go figure.
His 25 wickets in 13 games are a result of an average of almost exactly two wickets a game and a strike rate of exactly 12. That's world class. And certainly not a 7/2 shot.
JAMIE PACHECO'S 2021 IPL
Points Wagered: 12pts
Points Returned: 5.86
P ad L: -6.14