Ahmedabad could emphasise the gulf between RCB and Punjab

Punjab Kings v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Friday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

On their basis of their performances or prospects for the season, the gulf between these two is vast. RCB are co-favourites for the title at 4.1, with ten points in the bank already. Punjab have just four, and are trading at a dismissive 32.031/1.

Relatively one-sided pre-match betting is therefore no surprise. RCB are 1.768/11 to win, compared to 2.285/4 for Kings. This was one of the matches analysed in this week’s podcast, which we recorded shortly after the latter’s dreadful performance in defeat to KKR.

Hope yet for struggling Punjab?

There isn’t anything good to say about their efforts so far, whether performances or selection, but hope can be taken from last season’s experience. They were in a worse position at this stage, only winning once in their first seven games, yet nearly made the play-offs by winning five of their last seven.

Nevertheless, this looks a daunting task. RCB have been superb and I reckon they’ll prove very well suited to this ground with big boundaries. Power-hitting at the death may well prove the difference and nobody is better equipped.

Powerful RCB finishers are the key

A late De Villiers blast did the trick for RCB against Delhi and they still had power in the shed. Punjab, in contrast, need Rahul or Gayle to play a long innings or their weak middle order will struggle at the death.

We’ve now had eight matches at Ahmedabad, including the England/India series. Five were won by the chaser, with dew generally a pivotal factor. Therein lies the problem with backing these obvious favourites at 1.768/11 pre-match. Instead, place an in-play order around 25% higher - in this case try 2.01/1.

170 is a good first innings total

This ground is not generally conducive to high scores. The three first innings scores beyond 170 were defended. Lose early wickets and 140 will be a challenge.

Previously in the RCB/Delhi match, I managed to get a lay of 180 or more matched and that looks a fair strategy to follow at the ground. It is quite ambitious because par will start around 165.

Try this trio of side bets

A few side bets appeal. First, given the bias to batsmen in the market, backing an RCB batsman for Man of the Match makes sense. Devdutt Padikkal is the value at 12/1. They could well end up chasing a low total, favouring the openers.

Padikkal’s opening partner Virat Kohli is the subject of an #OddsBoost to 11/4. For Punjab, KL Rahul is boosted to 12/5.

At 12/1, Moises Henriques looks overpriced for Top Punjab Runscorer. To win, they will likely need him to a significant late contribution.

On the bowling front, I must reiterate from the pod our bet on Chris Jordan to be Top Punjab Wicket Taker. Having been the only batsman to really perform here last time for them, he looks bound to stay in and to bowl at the death.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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