Impossible to back decimated Royals

Rajasthan Royals v Kolkata Knight Riders
Saturday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

As I write, four teams are stuck on two points at the foot of the league, including both of these sides. The situation is not critical yet, but fast becoming so. Six wins from the last ten matches is essential to have any chance of a play-off spot, seven would ensure it.

Royals crippled by injuries

It is hard to excuse either side on the basis of luck. Sure, Rajasthan have been hammered by losing Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes, but relying on overseas stars is very risky and they simply don’t have the quality in back-up. They’ve now lost Liam Livingstone, before he plays a match.

Their last two defeats were very one-sided. RCB chased down their sub-par total at the Wankhede on Thursday with 21 balls to spare. Had they bowled first, I reckon they could have conceded 250.

I’ve backed Rajasthan multiple times to finish bottom and am struggling to manufacture a positive argument for them. Only Sanju Samson has hit 100 runs yet, and most of them came in one innings. Their bowlers are being hammered.

Struggling KKR have quality to improve

KKR’s season so far is a similar story, especially the costliness of their bowlers. At least in their case, though, there are change options, given deep quality throughout the squad.

Sunil Narine came back in last time, but I can’t see the sense of that unless turn is expected. KKR do not lack sloggers, from number three down. Pat Cummins showed their six-hitting potential and depth last time, albeit in defeat after the specialist batsman had failed.

Lockie Ferguson must surely get a game soon as they need something extra with the ball. Cummins and Andre Russell are very hard to leave out, but very expensive.

Try this in-play trade on KKR

Nevertheless that class makes them clear favourites against Rajasthan for me. Of course there is always a risk in betting pre-toss. Chasers have won five from eight this season but, longer term, 19-14 to the team batting second is not an overwhelming advantage.

The plan, therefore, is to employ my ‘25% rule‘ - place an order on Kolkata at 25% higher than starting price. In this case, 2.35/4.

Runs galore available at the Wankhede

The Wankhede Stadium continues to offer up a potential avalanche of runs. 423 were scored in the previous match and, as noted above, many more than 358 would have been possible had Rajasthan not batted first and lost their top order very cheaply.

I’m adamant that a team could hit 240 plus on this ground. If KKR bat first, I will keep those extreme lines onside. For example, when CSK hit 220, I took 15.014/1 about 215 or more 1st Innings Runs and 36.035/1 about 230 or more prior to the innings.

Odds of 7/5 are available on the Sportsbook about both teams scoring 170. Take those odds. That bet landed in five out of eight this season at this ground, and nine of the last 15. Plus both sets of bowlers are expensive.

As usual there are a couple of #OddsBoosts in the Top Team Runscorer markets. Samson to 7/2 for Royals and Russell to 5/1 for KKR. The respective favourites for either side are Jos Buttler at 2/1 and Rana at 3/1.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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