IPL Winner Betting: Back Dhoni's Super Kings to keep their cool
As we reach the business end of the IPL, Scott Ferguson looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the likely semi-finalists and predicts that the Chennai Superkings will have their name engraved on the trophy come Sunday night.
With just a handful of matches remaining before the semi-finals, it's all to play for. Only the brilliant Delhi, the diabolical Kolkata and the underperforming Mumbai have their fates already sealed. With Delhi safely qualified and Chennai as good as home, four franchises (Deccan, Punjab, Rajasthan and Bangalore) are left battling for two places. So what makes these teams click and which team will come out on top on May 24?
Delhi, [3.1], are top of the table because of their depth of options. Gambhir, Sehwag and Warner have been reasonable with only two fifties between the trio but the strength of the team has really come via de Villiers and Dilshan. Quick running between the wickets and creativity at the crease has put them both into the top eight batsmen of the tournament with three fifties each, and the only century so far to the South African. We already knew de Villiers was the best fieldsman in the world, he leads the catching stats with 12, four more than anyone else.Delhi are the only team to have four bowlers with at least 11 wickets each.
Nannes, Nehra, Mishra and Sangwan set a high standard and then Bhatia won the game for them against Deccan last week with 4/15. Virender Sehwag hasn't needed to be the best captain on the field as he has the best performing squad.
The obvious observation for Chennai ( [3.2]) is to say they rely heavily on Matthew Hayden, who is averaging over 50. Young Suresh Raina though, has been the find of the tournament - he's in the top five for runs scored, has executed some brilliant fielding and his part-time bowling at under a run a ball has made a big difference to his side. Their bowling has been solid if not spectacular - Muralidaran has also conceded less than a run a ball and Jakati is one of only two bowlers to take four wickets in two games. Dhoni's captaincy is up there with Warne - he empowers his players and gets the most out of a team with only a few genuine stars.
Deccan [5.3] started on fire and look like falling into a semi-final berth. The arrival of Symonds put a spark back into the team and Rohit Sharma has shown he can win matches off his own bat. If you were to name one side as having the most individual match-winners, Deccan would be the one. RP Singh tops the wickets tally with 19. This brings us back to that old issue: can you ever back the team of champions though when you need a champion team?
Kings XI Punjab [9.2] have had a new lease of life with the arrival of Brett Lee, while captain Yuvraj has started to perform miracles. They need everyone to perform on the day. The bowlers can be very expensive - Sreesanth, Abdulla and Pathan all concede at least one boundary per over and on a bad day they can go for plenty.
Rajasthan [8.4] rely heavily on the brilliance of Shane Warne. 22 players used, just five 50s and two bowlers with more than eight wickets. This team is held together by little more than string. Batting partnerships average below 20, the worst in the competition, yet they are still in the hunt for the semis. Graeme Smith has been very disappointing, averaging below 20.
Bangalore  have looked a different side since Pietersen left and took his ego with him. The Royal Challengers have won five of their last seven matches and could squeeze into the semis. Ross Taylor has been brilliant in recent games, while Kallis and Boucher have started to chip in as well. Their bowling is a massive weakness - just two bowlers with more than six wickets. Nagging injuries to Praveen Kumar have hurt the side. Without Kumble, they'd be in dire straits.
The two most consistent teams of the IPL 2009 have clearly been Delhi and Chennai. They've met twice already with the record split one apiece. Despite yesterday's surprise loss to Kolkata, I lean to Chennai to take the title on a few factors - the captaincy of Dhoni, Chennai were undefeated at the venues for the semis and final before yesterday (3-1 at Centurion and Johannesburg vs 2-2) and I don't think Delhi can keep playing at such a high level. It's the Super Kings to rule supreme in this year's IPL final.