Ed Hawkins takes a look at the first of Saturday's double header and backs an England batsman looking in fine form for the Dubai contest...
"Buttler has topped only once this IPL, bringing his win rate down from 43% to 35%. Could now be his time? He has form on the head-to-head and looked in sensational touch against Delhi"
Rajasthan Royals v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Saturday October 17 11.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
At the halfway point Rajasthan had looked well placed to stage a late raid on the play-off places. But any more performances like the one they produced against Delhi Capitals and they are more likely to finish bottom.
Simply, they lose their nerve. Needing just 39 off 30 for a target of 162, they managed only 25 and that with Robin Uthappa well set and Rahul Tewatia poised. Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson had given the Royals the perfect platform to take the points, but they choked.
It was a waste of a fine bowling performance with only Stokes, taken out of the attack after two overs, coming in for criticism. The loss means Steve Smith's lack of runs will once again come under the scanner.
Possible XI Stokes, Buttler, Smith, Sansom, Uthappa, Parag, Tewatia, Archer, Gopal, Unadkat, Tyagi.
Just when you thought it was safe to trust Royal Challengers Bangalore to make sensible decisions, they go on and make an absolute stinker. Hands up who thinks it's a good idea to bat AB De Villiers at No 6? Hands up who thinks Shivam Dube and Washington Sundar should be given more crease time than the South African?
Virat Kohli has his hand up. No-one else. What a mug. If Kohli bats AB in his rightful No 4 slot, Bangalore beat Kings XI on Wednesday and are well on their way to the play-offs.
Kohli argued that RCB were worried about death hitting, which makes no sense. But if they are worried about that, here's a solution: drop Aaron Finch, Kohli opens and Moeen Ali comes in at No 6.
Probable XI Finch, Paddikal, Kohli, De Villiers, Sundar, Dube, Morris, Udana, Chahal, Saini, Siraj
2020 RCB 158-2 (Kohli 72*, Archer 1-18) chased RR 154-6 (Lomror 47, Chahal 3-24)
2019 RCB 62-7 (Kohli 27) v RR 41-1 - no result, 5 over match
RR 164-3 (Buttler 59, Chahal 2-17) chased RCB 158-4 (Patel 67, Gopal 3-12)
Overall RR 10 RCB 9
The first-innings scores (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent first) at Dubai read: 161-1/167-1/158-2/169-1/201-1/196-1/178-2/164-1/174-1/201-t/175-1/206-1/163-1/157-t. The surface appears to be slower and lower and thus runscoring is becoming more difficult. We still think we're overdue a low total and going under 140s and 150s for minimal risk doesn't seem like a bad call. On this week's Cricket...Only Bettor ( see below) we discuss the merits of taking advantage of such a wager.
Expect both teams to favourite
For their contest against Delhi, we suggested the Royals would get their noses in front with a fast start with the bat. And that they did. Allied with a strong bowling performance they had the game in their pocket in the chase.
Confidence in them finishing the job has taken a hit, so it makes sense to look to manage your position rather than let it ride. That probably goes for both teams. With pitches slowing up, it could now pay to expect the chaser to be skinny favourites in their first powerplay. On tacky surfaces, the bowling side is rarely out of it, however so look for big numbers for the defender. These two teams fit this strategy well.
We're back to pre-tournament feelings of avoiding RCB at odds-on. They are 4/51.77 with Royals 6/52.20.
Jos Buttler has topped only once this IPL, bringing his win rate down from 43% to 35%. Could now be his time? He has form on the head-to-head and looked in sensational touch against Delhi, taking 22 from nine balls. He is 12/5, a 29% win probability.
Bangalore could well react to their error by batting De Villiers at No 3. He is 16/5 for honours with Sportsbook, an implied probability of 23.8. His three-year win rate is 37.5.
Who will make the play-offs? This week on Cricket...Only Bettor
Ed Hawkins IPL P-L
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