Rajasthan Royals v Punjab Kings
Monday 12 April 15.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Rajasthan finished bottom last season. They face an uphill task to improve on that considering they have lost Jofra Archer to injury. Whether he plays at all this season remains to be seen.
A weak bowling attack was their major problem so losing Archer is a considerable blow. It piles pressure on Chris Morris, the most expensive IPL signing ever, to step up. They will also need Jaydev Unadkat to rediscover historic form.
Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler are expected to open, although how long that lasts is another question. Buttler may be asked to help out in a misfiring middle-order once again.
Possible XI Stokes, Buttler, Samson, Tewatia, Dube, Morris, Parag, Gopal, Tye, Unadkat, Tyagi
Punjab are the rank outsiders for their first ever title. A play-off berth would be a good performance considering their wild inconsistency. We fancy them for a charge.
They either go off like a train or are shunted into sidings. Or vice versa. Last season they were awful at the start before staging a late rally and falling one win short of the top four.
Good work has been done in the auction to rectify a leaky bowling attack. Jhye Richardson is an excellent capture while there are high hopes for Ishan Porel. Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin are good spinners.
There's little wrong with the top four with Nic Pooran expected to produce game-turning knocks and KL Rahul the most consistent opener around.
Possible XI Rahul, Agarwal, Pooran, Sarfaraz, Hooda, Henriques, Richardson, Shami, Bishnoi, M Ashwin, Arshdeep
The Wankhede surface looked pretty good for batting on Saturday, holding true for Capitals to chase 189 with seven wickets to spare. It lived up to its reputation, although it has been slightly easier to bat first in terms of strike rates. In IPL first-innings 170 or more has been busted seven times in the last nine. In other domestic T20, 170 or more has been breached 13 times out of 25.
This is a big test for that Rajasthan Royals bowling attack. They were the most expensive team at the death last season. A favourite wager is to go big on innings runs (if they are bowling first) from the 17th over - taking high numbers of 50 or 60 to the total. Sportsbook go 5/6 both team make 170 and 11/5 for both making 170 or more.
Punjab in a chase
Rajasthan are 2.021/1 with Punjab 1.9620/21. The market is unsure of what to make of this contest, then.
We would rather be on Kings, although we recognise it might be a consider ride if they were to bat second. Royals have an awful record defending totals in the last two seasons - a win percentage of just 11%.
However, would they be 1.9620/21 going after that 170 or more? Probably not. You may well be able to get 2.1011/10 at the break.
Rahul wins just shy of 40% of the time for top Kings bat in the last three years so Sportsbook's price-boosted 5/2 is value. There's also an edge on Pooran (23.8%) at 4/1.
Buttler has also been price-boosted to 5/2 but it's a negative by 0.1%. Stokes gives us an edge of just over 2.5% at 11/4. However, Sanju Samson's 4/1 is the biggest value. Rahul Tewatia gives us a point at 10/1.
With the ball, Mohammad Shami and Chris Morris have return rates at 64% and 33% respectively. Shami is 15/8 for top Kings bowler and Morris 10/3. Richardson could chip away at Shami's dominance, however.