Ed Hawkins previews the first of Saturday's double header and reckons the visitors have the edge in Jaipur...
"With a lot of the Royals players beginning to think of the World Cup – keeping minds and bodies fresh – we expect the visitors to go from strength to strength"
Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians
Saturday 20 April, 11:30
TV: live on BT Sport
Royals in state of flux
With two wins from eight Rajasthan Royals need an extraordinary sequence of wins to make the play-offs. But just as the Royals should be fine tuning and searching for momentum, they will have to start again.
Before next week is out they would have lost Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler to England duty. And Steve Smith will not be far behind. Such a player drain is disastrous. A failure to plan for such an exodus likewise. The likes of Ish Sodhi, Liam Livingstone and Ashton Turner should come in while Oshane Thomas is another possible, although he could be called by West Indies.
They have begun to plan without key men. Smith and Stokes were not involved last time in defeat by Kings XI with Turner and Sodi preferred. Rahane batted at No 4 with Rahul Tripathi opening alongside Buttler.
Chasing 182 in that game the Royals had got off to a decent start with Buttler typically quick but they were unable to maintain a decent rate and ended up getting slower and slower. Archer earlier took three wickets.
Mumbai Indians have won five of their last six. The odd one out was a surprise defeat by Royals who, in contrast to their plod against Punjab, had made light work of a target of 188.
Last time out against Delhi Capitals they produced a strong show. Instead of going hell for leather with the bat, they played smart noticing that it was a 160-odd pitch. They got 168 with the Pandya brothers striking late, lusty blows.
Then they held their nerve in the face of the powerplay onslaught from the Capitals. The market had them beat before Shikhar Dhawan fell in the seventh over. Mumbai, thanks to leggie Rahul Chahar, turned the screw expertly and in the end it was a cosy win. Jasprit Bumrah was exceptional, too.
With deep batting and varied bowling options, they have the balance to challenge Chennai Super Kings for the title and it may well be that is the final.
Bar one game, batting has been tricky in Jaipur. Kings XI managed to post 188 in the first game - which was defended by 14 runs - but since then it's been a hard slog. The totals read: 158-139-151. Spin has been important and with Mumbai coming off the back of a similar surface against Delhi, they should be well equipped to deal with it.
Visitors should be shorter
Mumbai are 1.748/11 for another success and it's a surprise that they're not sub 1.705/7. Rajasthan are 2.3211/8.
Considering we thought Mumbai would be slightly skinnier it is fair to reckon they are the value here. Rajasthan have struggled to adapt to Jaipur and it's another failing of their recruitment that they don't have the players to thrive.
With a lot of the Royals players beginning to think of the World Cup - keeping minds and bodies fresh - we expect the visitors to go from strength to strength.
Buttler still value
Mumbai are 181 for no loss in their last three powerplays. Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock are in good touch, then. Rohit is the 2/1 favourite with Sportsbook for top Mumbai bat with De Kock 11/4. Neither of them are actual value for how often they win this market though. Late hitters Krunal and Hardik catch the eye at 10s and 9s respectively. For Royals, Buttler is a shout at 21/10. It was his 89 which razed Mumbai in the earlier meeting.
Archer is all the rage at the moment and he is expected to make England's World Cup squad.
Sportsbook go 5/6 he busts 31.5 performance points (1pt per run, 10 per catch, 20 per wicket). Four times out of eight this season he has beaten the mark with an average make-up of 33. He has a career per game make-up of 33. Archer also appeals at 3/1 for top Royals wicket-taker. He has copped in the last two and has a superior strike rate to the admirable Shreyas Gopal who is a 2/1 jolly.
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