Ed Hawkins previews the contest from Jaipur on Tuesday with faith in short supply about the home team...
"Can we trust Royals here after consistently underperforming? The best advice is to keep stakes sensible and only wager if the toss goes their way"
Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab
Tuesday May 9, 15:30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Royals a letdown
Rajasthan Royals' sixth defeat in nine against Kings XI on Sunday was probably a watershed moment. They're a poor team. And you can make all the excuses you want about finding a balance or individuals searching for form, there is very little that is impressive about them.
Despite their reputation as being 'unfashionable' Royals are the sort of team punters should be wary of. They spent big in the auction, reckoning that was all that was required to make them competitive. But they spent big on questionable talent like Ben Stokes, whose record isn't that great in this format. Stokes has been a disaster. He is averaging 17 at a strike rate of 123, which is not good enough. His economy rate is approaching ten and he has managed only two wickets.
Given he is supposed to be their x-factor player it is no surprise they are on the brink of being knocked out. D'Arcy Short, the Aussie blitzer, has also had a stinker while Jos Buttler's campaign has been rescued by his shift to opener, where he has back-to-back scores. Jaydev Unadkat, another pricey signing, has been a major letdown with the ball, too.
Rahul carrying Kings
We are not convinced by Kings. We reckon they're a two-man team. And they sort of proved that with one of them - KL Rahul - ending a two-game losing streak with an innings of class against Royals last time out.
Chasing 154 they were in a spot of bother at 87 for four in the 13th. But Rahul kept his nerve to go into the top four of the tournament run lists with an unbeaten 84 at a strike rate of 155. Marcus Stoinis kept him company with a much-needed effort.
It may have been a watershed moment. Hitherto Kings had a middle -order which wasn't worthy of the name. With Aaron Finch and Yuvraj Singh both dropped because of awful form, they desperately needed someone to show some stickability.
With the ball they have lacked penetration, heavily reliant on AJ Tye. But the spin attack of Ravi Ashwin, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Axar Patel could be increasingly trick to get away as pitches get more won at the business end of the tournament.
Sticky wicket for batters
The Jaipur ground isn't expected to be a run fest. It has hosted tight affairs so far with first-innings scores of: 151-167-160-153. No team has busted 200. Last time out Sunrisers Hyderabad defended 151. Rashid Khan, the spinner, was typically mean but this no raging turner. The pacemen were also canny in varying their speed. It's not a wicket that batters can not fully trust one suspects.
Rajasthan are [2.26] and Kings [1.79]. That is about what we would expect the match odds market to offer considering they played only two days ago.
Usually we are keen to take on the favourite. And given that it's Kings XI, a unit we have doubts about ranging from middle-over wicket-talking to fielding, there should be no hesitation.
But this is Rajasthan. Can we trust them here after consistently under-performing? The best advice is to keep stakes sensible and only wager if the toss goes their way. There is a heavy bias for the chaser here and that has to be on Rajasthan's - and our - side. Their price will take a hit but [2.1] should still be available.
Betfair Sportsbook don't appear to have noticed that Buttler has opened in the last two matches. It would be a surprise if he didn't again here given he has notched two fifties from that position in the last two. The 5/1 that he top scores should not be missed, even though we suspect he may find it hard to perform three games in a row. He should be about the same mark as Short, who is 11/4.
Gayle might struggle
For Kings top runscorer it's difficult to look past Rahul and Gayle who have scored more than 50 per cent of their team's runs this season. Rahul gets a 11/4 quote and Gayle 2/1 with Betfair Sportsbook. Rahul is the better value because he is more consistent. Rahul is 10/11 to bust 24.5 runs and Gayle the same for 27.5. We are tempted to short Gayle on that line because he might not be able to strike with freedom.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l