CSK should win yet again and it could be a couple of MS Dhoni's reliable lieutenants doing the damage against the Royals, says Jamie Pacheco...
"But it’s Gaikwad who has won this heat in three of the last four matches. Du Plessis has had his price boosted to 11/4 from 23/10 so he’s now the same price as Gaikwad, but I prefer the latter."
Rajasthan Royals v Chennai Super Kings
Saturday October 2, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports Cricket
Royals well up against it
The Royals got off to a very decent start against RCB. There was a quickfire 31 off 22 from Yashasvi Jaiswal that included a couple of sixes, while Evin Lewis justified his selection with an even better 58 off 37.
There was no super knock from skipper Sanju Samson this time, who made 19 off 15, and once he was gone, the innings really did lose all its momentum. They posted just 149, which RCB chased with plenty to spare.
Liam Livingstone, of whom so much was expected after superb performances for England and in The Hundred, has disappointed. He's made 25, 1, 4 and 6 and is yet to bowl. It's harming the Royals' chances and it's also harming his own chances of making England's XI at the upcoming World Cup.
That defeat cost them dearly. Not only does it mean there are now six points between them and RCB in third place but their net run rate also took a hit. They may well need to win all of their remaining three matches to have a chance of making the Playoffs.
Likely XI: Lewis, Jaiswal, Samson, Livingstone, Lomror, Parag, Tewatia, Morris, Unadkat, Sakariya, Rahman.
CSK looking unbeatable
What more can we say about CSK?
They can win games batting first, they can win games chasing. They can get over the line in high-scoring games and they can edge tense, low-scoring ones.
One day it's a batsman like Guturaj Gaikwad walking away with the man-of-the-match award, another it's an all-rounder like Ravindra Jadeja or Dwayne Bravo. Last time out against SRH it was Josh Hazlewood getting the match gong after returning figures of 3-24 off his four overs.
As it happens, they left it to the last over to win the game, but the chase was actually a lot more comfortable than it looked on paper.
That win secured their place in the Play-offs, but they won't be satisfied with that. They'll not only want a Top 2 finish, but they also want to actually top the table as a way of sending a message to the field. And they probably will.
Possible XI du Plessis, Gaikwad, Ali, Raina, Rayudu, Dhoni, Jadeja, Bravo, Chahar, Thakur, Hazlewood.
First innings scores have varied between about 130, to 150, to 171. That last one was a good effort first up by KKR which was chased off the very last ball by CSK.
It's also not the slightest bit obvious if it's best to bat first or chase.
And if none of this sounds particularly helpful, it's because patterns are simply not emerging that can help us have too many pre-game strategies based on the pitch and conditions.
Having said that, if you can lay the Royals batting first at odds-on for any less than 150 after a decent start, then that could be one to go with.
Wait for CSK to drift
There will be those who may think they're just about buying money by backing CSK here at 1.654/6.
They seem to trump the Royals in every possible way: better Indian players, better overseas players, better in the field, smarter captaincy, more complex in-game strategies, you name it.
We've also seen that CSK are equally adept at batting first or chasing and that the pitch doesn't necessarily favour doing one over the other.
The best we can hope for is to try and get around 2.0 on CSK if they get off to a poor start with either bat or ball. Don't get too greedy because that might be as big as their win price gets. Either way, we'd be confident that CSK can win from that position.
Gaikwad over du Plessis
The CSK top batsman market is pretty easy to decipher.
In MS Dhoni (12/1) and Suresh Raina (8/1) you have two batsmen badly out of form. They've hardly managed a score between them all season.
Moeen Ali (4/1) may come off one of these days, but his job is quite clearly to swing from the hip and whereas he'll always get quick runs, he may not necessarily hang around for that long. Ambati Rayudu (11/2) may not get much of a chance batting at five, especially if CSK are chasing a low score.
So, it ends up being a straight choice between the two openers: Gaikwad and du Plessis.
It's actually du Plessis who has slightly more runs for the season (435) compared to his junior partner (407).
But it's Gaikwad who has won this heat in three of the last four matches. Du Plessis has had his price boosted to 11/4 from 23/10 so he's now the same price as Gaikwad, but I prefer the latter.
All-round Jadeja can shine
Ravindra Jadeja is just like Gaikwad, a real protege of skipper Dhoni.
Jadeja has two man of the match awards already this season. It's typical of a player who can win you a game with the bat from an almost impossible position.
Or one who can get through his four overs in no time, pick up a couple of wickets and hardly go for any runs.
In summary, he's always in the game and another all-round performance from the incredibly underrated former Rajasthan man could see him up for consideration; he's 12/1.
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JAMIE PACHECO'S 2021 IPL P/L
Wagered: 19 pts
Returned: 14.46 pts
P/L: -4.54 pts