Kolkata Knight Riders v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Monday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Could RCB fall away again?
The tradition around this time of the season is for RCB’s season to implode, if it hasn’t already. At this halfway stage last season, they had an identical points tally. Ten from seven. They ended up sneaking into the play-offs on 14, losing their last six games.
It would be wrong to over-react to their surprise, heavy defeat to Punjab on Friday, not least because their opponents played very well, but another defeat here might set alarm bells ringing.
KKR urgently need improvement
For KKR, this is almost last-chance saloon. They need a minimum five wins from their last seven. Nobody would doubt the ability of their players to do so, though, and they can take inspiration from that Punjab result.
They were poor, however, on this ground against Delhi last time. Bowling and containing scores is a massive problem. Sunil Narine lacks the bite of old, while pacemen Andre Russell and Pat Cummins are expensive.
Ferguson to finally get a chance?
Sooner or later, they must have a re-jig of overseas players and give Lockie Ferguson a chance. High-class fast bowling can be very effective at Ahmedabad. Cummins opening, with Ferguson and Russell sharing death bowling duties, could definitely work. Narine is a luxury, in a team already full of sloggers.
RCB don’t have any such worries about incorporating luxury sloggers. Aussie Daniel Sams came in for the last two, bowling well. He’s another powerful finisher to back up the most explosive of middle-orders.
There are negatives. Kohli’s batting. Their bowlers have been hammered at the death twice of late. However I’m not souring on them due to one match. This squad remains their best chance of winning the IPL.
Dew means big advantage to chasers
Including the England series, we’ve now had ten matches at Ahmedabad this year, and there are some pretty clear signals.
Dew is usually a major factor and I suspect the advantage to the chasing side is understated by the 60% win rate.
The four successful 1st Innings Runs totals were all in excess of 170. Anything less should be a straightforward chase.
Try these two runs strategies
I’ve recommended the same successful in-play runs bet in my last two Ahmedabad previews - lay 180 or more at 2.01/1 - and will stick with that. That 180 line wasn’t matched in any of the other IPL matches so the ceiling probably isn’t much higher. The 224 racked up by India looks a complete outlier.
A second runs bet, that may seem counter-intuitive, is to take the enhanced 3/1 about both teams scoring 170. Were the team batting first to hit 170, the chasing side will likely be odds-on to get anything up to 185. It is quite possible that both of these bets land.
Follow openers at this ground
I’ll also repeat the Man of the Match strategies that didn’t pay off in either match. Results vindicate the strategy and Pritvhi Shaw did earn the award in Delhi’s next match at the ground.
In short, it should pay to back openers. Scoring is easier at the start of the innings and chasing teams are often ending up with easy, low targets. Moreover batsmen have a big advantage in Man of the Match. These factors aren’t reflected by odds of 14/1 about Devdutt Padikkal.
In the top team runscorer markets, Virat Kohli and Nitish Rana are the subject of enhanced #OddsBoosts, to 12/5 and 7/2 for RCB and KKR respectively.
Finally, 4/1 about Andre Russell to be Top Kolkata Wicket-Taker is fair value, given that he is sure to bowl at the death.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty