170 at the Wankhede is no big ask for these sides

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Delhi Capitals v Lucknow Super Giants
Sunday, 11:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Big game here, between two very plausible champions. Lucknow’s first season goes from strength to strength. Victory over Punjab took them into a tie for second, going into the weekend. Top-three finishers in the last two years, Delhi’s critical win over KKR on Thursday put them right back in the play-off hunt.

Delhi’s best line-up still unclear

Capitals have an abundance of riches at their disposal. In fact arguably their biggest problem is being unable to accommodate their overseas talent and build a stable batting order. David Warner and Prithvi Shaw are fixed as the openers, and both enjoying decent seasons. But Rishabh Pant aside, the rest of the top order is unsettled.

Mitchell Marsh has come in after returning from injury but is yet to make an impact. That has been the case for many Big Bash stars in IPL and I wonder whether he’ll retain a spot. Tim Seifert is a batting alternative and either player’s selection means excluding top-class bowlers. Personally, I would utilise Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi as much as possible (only one appearance between them so far).

Kuldeep back to his very best

Nevertheless, the bowling unit is thriving without them. Kuldeep Yadav and Khaleel Ahmed have 28 wickets from 14 appearances. Chetan Sakiraya – a young Indian paceman who made a big impact last season – came in for his first match on Thursday and went for just 5.66 per over.

I put up Lucknow at 7.0 to win the title on the latest episode of Cricket…Only Bettor and they’ve since won again. As argued there, my ideal T20 line-up is one which bats very deep and can attack throughout. One balanced by all-rounders. This squad ticks all the boxes and a weakness isn’t obvious.

In K.L. Rahul and Quinton de Kock, LSG both one of the strongest opening pairs in every form of cricket. 615 runs between them so far and surely much more to come.

If either fail, the back-up is considerable. In addition to solid batters in Deepak Hooda, Manish Pandey and Ayush Badoni, they have a trio of all-rounders in Marcus Stoinis, Krunal Pandya and Jason Holder. That means finishing power down to at least eight. Four of their bowlers have an economy below 7.0.

No advantage to chasers today

There is very little to choose between these two sides, so its no surprise to see them both trading around even money. Moreover, there is no clear advantage to either the team batting first or second. Chasers lead 6-5 this season and 11-10 over the past two. However this is an early match so there won’t be any dew and batting first is probably a better plan.

Regarding runs, I must reiterate the points laid out in my previous article regarding the timing of entering the 1st Innings Runs market. Wait for the Strategic Timeout around the nine over mark, and then back overs.

Always back late runs at the Wankhede

In that piece, I noted an average of around 11.5 per over for this latter stage. In the next match, the STO was earlier, after seven overs. From there, Sunrisers hit 137 off 13, so over 10.5 per over. In the chase, Gujurat managed 132 off the last 13. In the next match, KKR hit 100 off the last 11 from 46-4. Not such an extreme, but still above the par line at that stage of the innings.

This is definitely a superior plan to betting pre-innings. As the difference of 50 between those last two first innings implies, it isn’t easy to predict par at this ground. There have been plenty of low scores, due to early wickets, but 200+ is perfectly realistic on a good strip, given the small boundaries.

No shortage of power on either side

One runs bet that does appeal is Both Teams to Score 170, at an enhanced 2/1. This landed in four of the last six Wankhede matches and nine of the last 21. Plus as explained above, both sides bat very deep and are well equipped for the ground, with powerful finishers.

As usual, there are two #OddsBoosts available on opening batsmen. David Warner to 7/2 for Delhi and K.L. Rahul to 11/4 for Lucknow. Both represent solid value at those odds, which would have yielded a long-term profit if backing for consistent stakes.

Finally, speaking of ‘wrong odds’, Kuldeep Yadav has already won four Man of the Match awards in eight appearances, yet is an enormous 16/1 to do so again.

Of course runs like this can only continue so long but the odds are too big to ignore. Likewise, Krunal Pandya won this award in Lucknow’s last match and is 14/1 to repeat. In both cases, it makes good sense to back spinners at this time of the season and Pandya could well contribute with the bat.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty