Punjab Kings v Lucknow Super Giants
Friday 29 April, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Punjab still unbalanced
Punjab recorded their fourth win in eight last time out against Chennai Super Kings to keep them honest for a play-off charge. But they still look an unconvincing unit in terms of balance.
Kagiso Rabada was at least no longer batting at No 7. He was a place lower down thanks to Rishi Dhawan balancing the team at No 7. Dhawan is solid rather than spectacular and is very much franchise bench fodder.
Still, beggars can't be choosers. Punjab splurged big on Odean Smith and the gamble has left them short. Dhawan will be key going forward as will the spin of Liam Livingstone.
There is nothing wrong with the top six apart from Jonny Bairstow's chronic lack of runs. Perhaps Odean could play as a finisher only?
Possible XI: Dhawan, Agarwal, Rajapaksa, Livingstone, Jitesh, Smith, Dhawan, Rabada, Arshdeep, Chahar, Sandeep.
Lucknow are a tricky team to call because two and one of their five victories have come against the disasters that are Mumbai Indians and Chennai respectively.
In terms of personnel they have a decent probable XI, albeit slightly flawed. Quinton de Kock and KL Rahul have not been explosive in the powerplay. Ayush Badoni is hardly an eye-catching sixth bowling option.
In terms of batting and bowling power then it is no surprise they find themselves below average for both.
They missed Avesh Khan against Mumbai due to injury and they are a team which can afford to be without their main strike bowler for long.
Probable XI: Rahul, De Kock, Pandey, Stoinis, Hooda, Badoni, Pandya, Holder, Chameera, Bishnoi, Mohsin.
The seven first-innings scores at Pune this season (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent first) read: 144-1/169-2/198-1/151-2/161-2/171-1/210-1.
The surface has not quite lived up to its reputation for runs. A first-innings average of 172 sounds healthy but in the previous eight games before this IPL at the venue 200 or more was recorded in first dig.
With Punjab's batting dicey and Lucknow's batting ranking on economy and boundary percentage on the short side, it would be a rtisk to start reckoning a runs par line buy in the high 170s was a wager. Bet the runs par line here
Batting side has advantage
Lucknow Super Giants are 1.875/6 favourites with Punjab 2.0621/20. Given the balance of the two teams, it is possible this should be a choice affair. Bet the match odds here
It is tempting to reckon that there is advantage for the side batting first. The team that can get first use and attempt to go big may find that scoreboard pressure is the decisive factor.
There is more than a hint of flakiness about these two, however, and it would be far from a confident wager.
Rahul and Dhawan have been boosted to 13/5 and 16/5 for top Lucknow and Kings top bat respectively. Both are wagers on win rates.
But there are chunkier odds which catch the eye. For a start Manish Pandey gives an edge at 4/1 for LSG. Pandey showed a bit of form against Mumbai and now he's returned to the fold he might feel more confident. That's just shy of two percentage points on win rate. At 11/2 Marcus Stoinis looks big considering he should be batting at No 4.
Jitesh Sharma, a real player in the making, has ben adjusted from 9/1 to a whopping 14s for Punjab. It's a wager based purely on talent identification. Livingstone is 9/2 and Bairstow 5/1. Bet the Sportsbook odds here
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