Rajasthan Royals v Lucknow Super Giants IPL
TV: live on Sky Sports
Buttler, Hetmyer and Chahal impress but 100% record gone
The Royals are two from three, their perfect start coming to an end during the week against RCB.
It's a game they'll look back on and think they probably should have won.
They posted ca very competitive 169 thanks to another mature and controlled innings from Jos Buttler, who started slowly but accelerated when he needed to, remaining 70 not out.
They also benefited from a lovely cameo from Shimron Hetmyer.
He looked overpriced at the auction and often looks unfit but he's been good so far. Last time out it was 42 off 31 and his strike rate has been really high, at 187.
He's starting to look like the match-turning batsman he can be rather than the one guilty of soft dismissals we've seen in the IPL in the past.
In the end they were undone by two brilliant cameos from Dinesh Karthik and Shabhaz Ahmed. But then again, that was the story the whole of this week with teams getting over the line in tough chases thanks to good death overs batting and the dew factor.
Yuzvendra Chahal was excellent as usual, Ravi Ashwin uncharacteristically expensive.
But they should field the same team here again, so Rassie van der Dussen still waits for his chance.
Rajasthan Royals' Likely XI
Buttler, Jaiswal, Padikkal, Samson, Hetmyer, Parag, Ashwin, Saini, Boult, Krishna, Chahal.
Lucknow looking the real deal
So much for the difficulties of being a new franchise.
At the time of writing it's Gujarat in second and Luckow in third so they certainly hit the ground running despite being new to the whole thing.
Of the two, I prefer Lucknow. Their batting looks stronger and have a better skipper in KL Rahul.
But what they also have is variety, both in their batting and bowling.
Rahul, Quinton de Kock, Deepak Hooda and Jason Holder should have good seasons from among the seniors players but it could be two youngsters being the biggest stars of all.
Spinner Ravi Bishnoi has been superb, taking four wickets and going at less than seven an hour after four games. His 2/22 was arguably as big a contribution as that of de Kock's 80 off 52 in the chase.
And then there's Ayush Badoni. He's striking at 156 for the tournament and despite being just 22, looks incredibly composed and relaxed in the most stressful of situations.
He only faced three balls against Delhi in that win but one went for four and the winning runs were scored with a six. The exuberance of youth.
They've waited for Marcus Stoinis to be available and now he is. Their batting look strong anyway but it will be even better with him now and he also provides a bowling option.
Andrew Tye has been very expensive so far and is favourtite to make way for Stoinis. The other option is to make do without Evin Lewis, who is batting out of position.
Lucknow's Likely XI
De Kock, Rahul, Lewis, Hooda, Stoinis, Badoni, Krunal, Holder, Gowtham, Khan, Bishnoi.
We're at Pune for this one. First innings scores so far have been 161/4, 171/6 and 210/6. Those last two were defended, going against the trend of the tournament so far.
That 161/4 was chased by KKR against Mumbai but only thanks to a freak of an innings by Pat Cummins.
So, 175 looks about a par score.
Despite the fact that so far (excluding Saturday's late game) two of the three batting first have gone on to win the game, the skipper wining the toss will probably prefer to chase as per usual.
Evens the pair makes it a tough betting market
The Exchange market is strangely illiquid at the time of writing, for an IPL match.
But over on the Sportsbook, it's a choice affair with 9/10 the pair.
That looks about right.
Rajasthan were quite fancied from the start, whereas Lucknow have impressed and forced the odds compilers to stand up and take note.
This really is one of those where it's hard to make a case for either team.
They've never played each other before so no head to heads to go by and the pitch isn't necessarily better to bat first on, or vice versa.
And with the odds exactly the same, there's no angle there, either. So in the absence of one, we'll leave this market alone.
Buttler to kick on
Sometimes we can be guilty of overcomplicating. Jos Buttler is a case in point.
He's the Orange Cap holder with 205 after scores of 35, 100 and 70 not out. He's striking at 143.
So not only is he in the form of his life but what he's been doing recently over the past year or so is been a bit more patient.
In the past he's got frustrated at good bowling, an inability to time his shots or a tricky wicket and got out forcing the issue.
But he's been a very different player since that century against Sri Lanka at the World Cup, biding his time, playing himself in and kicking on at the end.
The danger of course for his team is if he gets out before he starts hitting out but that's not our concern when betting him at 21/10. Or 13/5 to be precise, given he's been boosted.
That price boost really sways it for us and though some will prefer to take a risk on a Hetmyer (6/1) or a Padikkal (9/2) at bigger prices, it's Buttler for me. The favourite but a very justified one.
Old favourite Holder worth another shot
And now from the Orange Cap holder to...Jason Holder.
I tipped Jason Holder for top bowler honours two matches ago and he took three wickets. You'd think that would have at the very least resulted in a tie, but he was pipped by Avesh Kan's four wickets.
Last time out he went wicketless, though in the death overs he really did everything but take a wicket.
So, he might be due and his IPL stats suggest that 10/3 is always a very decent price on him to be top bowler.
Another factor in his favour here is that if Stoinis plays instead of Tye, more overs will be shared by all-rounders like Stoinis, Hooda and Krunal and fewer bowlers will get through the maximum quota.
Given Holder almost always bowls his four, he should be one of the few doing so, thus increasing his chances.