Mumbai Indians v Rajasthan Royals: Indians looking good to make it four-in-a-row

Kieron Pollard Mumbai Indians IPL 2019
Kieron Pollard hit an incredible 83 from 31 balls to beat Kings XI Punjab
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Mumbai Indians are flying in IPL 2019 with three wins on the bounce and James Buttler thinks they will have too much for a Rajasthan side that has lost twice this week...

"Rajasthan did the double over Mumbai last season, but have been beaten in their last two 2019 games and only won once in six matches. The hosts are on a tremendous run of success. Momentum-wise this game is there for Mumbai to win. With home advantage and plenty of confidence as the Indians seek their fourth win in a row, they are rightly hot favourites."

Mumbai Indians v Rajasthan Royals
Saturday April 13, 11:30
Live on BT Sport and Star Gold (Sky channel 729)

Mumbai the form team

Mumbai Indians have been my pick to win IPL 2019 from the start and have a great chance to consolidate their place in the top four with a win against Rajasthan. With three successive wins under their belt the [4.6] second favourites are definite contenders to go all the way.

Mumbai beat Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday as stand-in skipper Kieron Pollard cracked 83 from 31 balls with 10 sixes and three fours in an awesome display of force. They had withstood an assault from Chris Gayle and a century from KL Rahul to fight back and take the points. Regular captain Rohit Sharma missed that game with a leg inhury, his first absence in 11 seasons, but should return for this Royals clash. Rohit's return on 118 runs from five innings is disappointing from India's vice-captain with the World Cup on the horizon.

Paradoxically the good sign from the Indians' early season success is that the top order are yet to fire. Quinton de Kock, Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav have been disappointing and the optimist would suggest they are too good not to come to the party. So far it has been Pollard and Hardik Pandya that have often stepped in to supplement the Indians' score from further down the order. But this is a team sport and taking contributions from all areas is a positive.

With the ball too, wickets have been shared around the Indian attack, which means they are not as reliant on Jasprit Bumrah as they have been in the past. Alzarri Joseph has been a major find, his 6-12 on debut being the best ever analysis in IPL history and, although his second wicketless game didn't yield the same success, he bowls with pace and venom that can turn a game on its head.

Royals continue to struggle

Rajasthan Royals side were beaten on Thursday by the Chennai Super Kings in a final ball thriller. With four runs required Mitchell Santner smashed Ben Stokes for six. That defeat followed a battering by Kolkata Knight Riders and has left them second-to-bottom of the table with only their fellow regally named side, Royal Challengers Bangalore, winless and worse off.

The Royals haven't been atrocious, yet have found a way to lose five games from their six played. Aussie Steven Smith has walked back into the side and made an unbeaten 73 in the defeat to Kolkata. But Jos Buttler's form has dipped and Ben Stokes is disappearing at over 11 an over. Someone also needs to tell him he is not the best man to bowl the final over of the match!

In the field, Shreyas Gopal has taken eight econmical wickets with his leg-breaks and Joffra Archer has been a consistent threat. As a team they are getting into must win territory as the play-off places appear a distant dream.

Tough to back against Mumbai

Rajasthan did the double over Mumbai last season, but have been beaten in their last two 2019 games and only won once in six matches. The hosts are on a tremendous run of success. Momentum-wise this game is there for Mumbai to win. With home advantage and plenty of confidence as the Indians seek their fourth win in a row, they are rightly hot favourites.

In 21 previous encounters, Mumbai lead the rivalry by 11-9 (with one match abandoned). At the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai lead 4-2. This game should go to Mumbai Indians and the price is short for a reason. [1.69] is too skinny for me to get too excited about, but I think it lands. I certainly couldn't invest in Rajasthan at [2.42].

Suryakumar Yadav has to come good

I really rate Mumbai's top scorer from IPL 2018. Suryakumar Yadav has so far scored only 138 runs in six innings, but he's been getting himself out. Obviously that is not a good thing, but it does mean he isn't playing badly. The price on Yadav to top score is 7/2 and, for me, he's Mumbai's best batsman.

Suryakumar Yadav has to come good

With Jos Buttler, Ajinkya Rahane and Steven Smith leading this market there is value further down the list. Sanju Samson is a cracking player who has not had too much opportunity so far this season, but when he made an unbeaten 102 against Sunrisers at the end of March he showed how exciting he can be. Samson is 4/1 and Ben Stokes 13/2. I am splitting my stake across this pair in the middle order.

A century to be score

The Wankhede Stadium is providing decent batting conditions so there should be plenty of runs. Both teams have batsmen that can go big. With a century to be scored in this game available at 17/2, I think that is exceptional value. I'm therefore avoiding a short-priced Mumbai and playing for a three-figure score instead. No side has bettered a 200-total in the history of this match, but that could be under threat this weekend.

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*Follow James on Twitter @cricket_badger

James Buttler at IPL 2019

Units Staked 34.50
Units Returned 45.09
Profit/Loss: +10.59 units

IPL 2018 P/L +10.83
IPL 2017 P/L +3.36

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