Royal Challengers Bangalore v Rising Pune Supergiants
Sunday April 16, 15:30
Live on BT Sport
Not even the return of Virat Kohli could change Bangalore's fortunes against Mumbai on Friday and it's now just one win from four for the men in red and black. To be fair to Kohli, he did this bit, top-scoring with 62 with a very respectable strike rate of 131.9.
Their 142 was below par on what was admittedly a tricky two-paced pitch that was a real rarity for what is usually a good wicket over in Bangalore. A remarkable hat-trick from Samuel Badree made them strong favourites to win the game in-play on Betfair when they had Mumbai at 8-4 chasing that 142 total but it shows their lack of strength in depth with the ball that they let Mumbai off the hook, with Kieron Pollard guiding his side to victory against all odds.
At least they've finally got the right idea in picking both Badree and Tymal Mills as two of their overseas players. Their bowling line-up needs all the star quality it can get because the local bowlers simply don't look capable of keeping run rates under control.
It's unlikely they'll pick Adam Milne or Billy Stanlake ahead of Chris Gayle because that could mean going the other way and becoming too lightweight with the bat. So it might just be Tymal Mills who's sacrificed with one of those two coming in his place or replaced by Shane Watson, which would of course give them options with both bat and ball.
Rising Pune Supergiants
As captain of Australia in all three formats and skipper/number 3 of Rising Pune Supergiant, Steve Smith must be just about the most overworked man in world cricket. He's also been doing his bit with the bat as scores of 84*, 26 and 43 demonstrate but boy... is he missing Ravichandran Ashwin. The Indian champion spinner is resting ahead of the Champions Trophy and Smith has been deprived of his best bowler, a very capable lower-order batsman and...a player who doesn't eat up into his overseas quota.
Like Kohli, Smith is yet to work out what his best XI is. It's a little hard to understand how the excellent Faf du Plessis doesn't get a game because he's also such a brilliant fielder but that would have to be at the expense of Kiwi fast bowler Lockie Ferguson because right now Smith himself, Ben Stokes and Imran Tahir are 'undroppable'. How Smith wishes he had Mitchell Marsh available. Having the Aussie all-rounder in the side alongside Ben Stokes would give him all sorts of options.
Pune also have just one win from four matches.
It's not hard to see why Bangalore are [1.7] here. The market always fears that one side of the Gayle-Kohli-de Villiers triangle will come off and that the result is that their total batting first is unreachable or that they can chase anything. That's fair enough but if they fall below par (as happened on Friday) batting first, their bowling doesn't look capable of making amends.
As for Pune, too much rests on the shoulders of Ajinkya Rahane and Smith with the bat because you certainly wouldn't bank on anyone else to bat deep. I'd rather be on Pune at [2.3] because there's also always the chance that we could see Tahir's ludicrously over-the-top (for cricket, this isn't football) celebration two or three times across the 20 overs because he's a real match winner. But then again, I'd rather not be on either of them on the match odds market.
Top Team A (Bangalore) Wicket Taker
In a match with very few betting opportunities worthy of that name, just about the only one can be found in this market. It says a thing or two about Bangalore's lack of gun bowlers that the most any bowler who has played four matches so far has taken, was four, by YS Chahal. Tymal Hills has taken three whereas everyone else has been in and out of the side. Or in the case of Stuart Binny (who did play all four matches) only had three overs to impress, from which he took an extremely creditable two wickets.
Until we recall that Samuel Badree took four wickets in just one match. Taking a hat-trick has a huge element of luck to it (the umpire has to uphold an LBW appeal, your team-mates have to hold onto their catches etc) so we certainly don't expect him to do that this next match. But he's the real class performer in the side with the ball, will definitely bowl his four overs and is one of those guys who always aims at the stumps, bring bowled, caught and LBW all into the equation on just about every delivery. Backing him at 7/2 here is the best bet of the match.
Follow me on Twitter @ Thethirdman10
Jamie's IPL 2017