Royal Challengers Bangalore
What are you doing, RCB? They couldn't help their rain-abandoned washout against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday, but they are too good on paper to have collected only two wins in the seven matches prior to that.
The beaten finalists in the last IPL were slow out of the blocks too. In 2016 they needed to win six of their last seven matches and all of their last four games to qualify and did it. No team has ever qualified for the latter stages with fewer than seven wins and with six games to play RCB seemingly need to win five of them to stand a chance.
They have been hampered by injury, but any team with Virat Kohli, AB De Villiers and Chris Gayle can find a run of form. However, they are entering the last chance saloon.
The Lions are rock bottom of the table and are there for a reason. Their bowling is light and their batting hasn't scored enough runs to mask those deficiencies in the field.
With two wins from seven games they, like RCB, can't afford mistakes. Unlike RCB they haven't got the match-winners to inspire the 'they can do it' attitude.
The positives for Gujarat has been the form of their skipper Suresh Raina and Kiwi Brendon McCullum. Without Raina's 275 runs and match-winning 84 against KKR two games ago and without McCullum's 264 runs, also including one winning knock, the Lions would be changing their name to the tabby cats, and not the cute variety. Only Andrew Tye with nine wickets has shown anything with the ball.
It seems incredible that RCB [1.7] start any game at the moment as favourites, but they are playing a Lions side at [2.38] that offer even less motivation to back them. Whether you take a punt on Gujarat depends on which RCB side you think shows up. Will it be the glamour boys with Gayle, Kohli and De Villiers smashing sixes to all corners, or will it be the desperate side that were 49 all out against KKR in their last game?
You'd hope a few stern words have engendered new resolve in the RCB camp. The value is with the Lions, but the head says RCB, so this is a market I'm personally swerving.
Kohli is too short at 2/1 despite being the best batsman in the side. De Villiers at 3/1, if fit, is a player I rate highly in all formats and you only need him to be around for a few overs for his score to soar. Chris Gayle, also at 3/1, is hit and miss, but if he's in the mood he lands this bet. In a game of this importance RCB will be looking to their three star names to blast them home and so am I with Gayle edging it for me. The West Indian powerhouse likes nothing better than to prove the doubters wrong and this could well be his kind of game.
As stated the two men who have found runs easiest to score in IPL 2017 are Suresh Rains (10/3) and Brendon McCullum (23/10). Only Dinesh Karthik has come close to rivalling those two and his price of 6/1 makes more appeal in a struggling side.
This is a market that that only requires a nibble of a bet to give you an interest in the game from start to finish. Take a look at make your choice, but I prefer the all-rounders with this bet as they get more that one bite at the cherry. My nominee is Ravindra Jadeja at 16/1 - just half stakes.
Both sides are batting heavy so why not? It's a 9/2 shot with every chance in this game.
James Buttler at IPL 2017