Rajasthan Royals v Delhi Capitals
Thursday April 15 15.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Samson's heroics went to waste first up
Sanju Samson must have felt sick about playing one of the best knocks ever seen in IPL history against Kings Punjab only to end up on the losing side.
His 119 was an innings of the highest order and it will have been even more frustrating that he got to within one blow of actually winning the game.
Four off the last ball would have taken us to a Super Over, six would have won it for the Royals. In the end Samson couldn't clear long off and the Punjab Kings breathed a collective sigh of relief. Samson did still walk away with the man-of-the-match award, a rarity for someone on the losing side, but it won't have been much consolation.
In truth they wouldn't even have come close had it not been for Samson's freak innings. They conceded 221 first up. Only Chetan Sakariya bowled with any control and he still went for 31. The likes of big money man Chris Morris and Mustafizur Rahman both went at over 10 an over.
There was also little support for skipper Samson with the bat. Numbers 5, 6 and 7 scored 25, 23 and 25 respectively at healthy strike rates but no one hung around long enough to form a proper partnership with Samson. This could be another long season for them.
South African duo set to play
Delhi started the season well, beating CSK convincingly.
There was a brilliant 85 from the evergreen Shikhar Dhawan, a quickfire 72 off 38 from Privthi Shaw and with the ball, strong contributions from Chris Woakes (2-18) and Avesh Khan (2-23).
They chased 189 with the minimum of fuss and look a side to be respected.
They may, however, ring the changes for this one. Ricky Ponting's golden boy Marcus Stoinis should keep his place and Woakes will probably play as well.
But Tom Curran was expensive and should make way for Kagiso Rabada, free to play after ending his quarantine period. Shimron Hetmyer looks a luxury at number five and may step aside for Anrich Nortje (also ending his quarantine period), excellent both last year and in the recent Series against Pakistan.
Royals could be worth a punt in a big chase
Mumbai is a high-scoring ground as we know. That might actually suit the Royals who look less well equipped to win tight games of cricket based on smart team tactics, good fielding and awareness of the wicket and conditions. They look better equipped to being involved in high-scoring games where they're set big totals on good wickets. As we said, they almost pulled it off on Monday.
And they'll almost certainly need to chase because their win record defending totals is just above the 10% mark, a horrendous one.
If they can restrict DC to about 190 they'll have a decent sniff at winning with Samson, Stokes and Jos Buttler all capable of scoring 50 in no time and some decent lower-order hitters still to come.
So the Royals could be a decent in-play option at around 2.89/5 or better batting second; but you wouldn't want to be on them batting first.
Buttler too big
Jos Buttler is out to 7/2 and that's presumably because the Sportsbook think he'll carry on batting in the middle-order. The clue to that is that Stokes is just 11/4, the same price as Samson.
But I have a feeling the Royals may switch Stokes and Buttler around just one game into the tournament. Stokes was the victim of an ugly dismissal on Monday, out for a three-ball duck, and the jury is still out as to whether he's suited to opening the batting.
That 7/2 will look big indeed (if Buttler does open) based on his IPL record but he's not without his chances even if he doesn't. The Royals are capable of top-order collapses and Buttler is capable of whirlwind innings on his day. It's a big price on a class act like him.
Mumbai can witness special knock
I can't resist putting some money down on a century being scored. The likes of Dhawan, Ntish Rana and KL Rahul have all gone past 80 in one innings already and Samson of course went (well) past the century mark so there are some batsmen this year in the mood.
The other point is that both the Royals and the Capitals are the sort of side who tend to see big runs come from the key members of their top order. A stark contrast to say CSK where several players all get 30s and 40s in any given game. Just as an example, Dhawan scored two centuries last year for Delhi and Stokes got one for the Royals.
Then of course, it's Mumbai. Small boundaries in some parts, good wicket, easy to go big once you're set. Too good to turn down at 9/1.