Month: May 2022

Worn Brabourne to play into Hasaranga’s hands

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Royal Challengers Bangalore v Punjab Kings
Friday 13 May 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Speaking of Kohli…

RCB are very much back on track and you could say they’ve very much ‘done an RCB’ this season: start well, go on a bad run and then find a couple of late wins to make the playoffs. Once there, they generally fail to make the final and even when they do (which they have on three occasions), they lose.

So why should this year be different? Some of that was said in jest of course but if you’re assuming they will make the Playoffs and are looking for a positive, it would be that with Faf du Plessis in charge rather than Virat Kohli, they have a far better chance.

And speaking of Kohli: he either has an extremely good agent, is worth his place in the team for marketing reasons alone or RCB somehow think he’s going to find form.

His golden duck last time out was remarkably his third nought of the campaign and the best thing you could say about it was that it’s better than eating up a load of deliveries.

In a perverse way, Glenn Maxwell may be quite pleased his former RCB skipper struggled so much because it’s taken the attention away from his own poor form with the bat. But at least ‘The Big Show’ has taken some important wickets including three in his last two.

Could Kohli and Maxwell maybe swap batting positions? They’ve tried just about everything else.

Hasaranga was excellent last time out taking five wickets and du Plessis led the way with the bat. Josh Hazlewood carries on making important contributions, too.

Funny old team, are RCB.

RCB’s Likely XI

Kohli, du Plessis, Patidar, Maxwell, Karthik, Shabhaz, Lomror, Hasaranga, Patel, Hazlewood, Siraj.

One-dimensional Punjab paying the price

The idea that you can win an IPL title simply by loading your side with power-hitters was well and truly put to bed in the form of the Punjab Kings.

Livingstone, Rajapaksa, Bairstow, Smith, Shahruckh (to name but a few) did indeed hit a fair few sixes. But there will be matches when the wicket doesn’t allow you to go for broke every other ball and there will be game situations where it’s not needed anyway.

Ironically, it was a loss of belief that sky-high strike rates were the way to go halfway through the tournament that cost them. If that was the game plan, then at least stick with it.

Not that their bowling was much better, a reflection of where their priorities in the Mega Auction lay.

The ever-brilliant Kagiso Rabada aside, and Rahul Chahar to a lesser extent, they were either economical without taking wickets, or took wickets but were expensive.

Assuming Punjab don’t find a way of winning three in a row and somehow qualifying for the playoffs, I’m actually quite glad it didn’t come off.

Jonny Bairstow light blue ODI - 1280.jpg

Cricket always has been and should always be about having a good balance rather than just having one area of strength and one gameplan. It will be interesting to see if their policy changes for next year.

Punjab’s Likely XI

Dhawan, Bairstow, Rajapaksa, Agarwal, Livingstone, Sharma, Dhawan, Rabada, Chahar, Singh, Sharma.

Pitch report

Here’s what happened the last few times we were at Brabourne.

Mumbai posted 177 against Gujarat and won by five runs, Delhi posted 207 and beat SRH by 21 runs and RCB posted 170 against Gujarat, which the Titans chased with three balls to spare.

The more worn pitches get (and some are pretty worn by now), the less relevant the early-season stats, so I’m not looking back any further.

Expect around 175 first up. That should make it pretty much a 50/50 game. If that’s roughly what the team batting first gets, it’s not the worst strategy to then just go with the side who’s the outsider at the break.

RCB slight jollies with reason

It’s 1.8910/11 on RCB, which is pretty much what you’d expect them to be.

They’ve been slightly better this season, have two more wins than their opponents on the board (Punjab do admittedly have a game in hand on them) and are on a promising run of two straight victories. They also have the better bowling attack.

But Punjab’s batting is more than capable of firing on any given day and I wouldn’t necessarily trust RCB to chase 180 if that’s what the Kings get to. There are better options elsewhere.

Patidar price stands out like a sore thumb

After what I said above about Kohli, you’d think his odds would have lengthened considerably for this one in the several markets he’s involved in.


But no. Remarkably, he’s 12/5 for RCB Top Batsman (at his ‘regular’ price, he’s admittedly boosted to 11/4), 4/1 for top match batsman and 7/1 for man-of-the-math. Jolly in all three. Answers on a postcard, please.

The one good thing about Kohli being ridiculously under-priced is that it’s lengthened the odds on other players on the RCB top batsman market.

Maxwell looks too short (4/1) on current form, du Plessis about right at 11/4.

glenn maxwell.jpg

But the one I like is Rajat Patidar. He’s only played four times this season but got scores of 16, 52, 21 and 48, meaning he’s averaging 34 for the season.

The strike rate is very healthy at 135, he’s mostly been batting at three this season and in Kohli and Maxwell there are two out-of-form players. If he can get du Plessis beat, he’ll have every chance and at 5/1, that’s far too big.

Hasaranga can strike again

As a slightly more obvious selection, I also want to keep Hasaranga on my side.

With 21 wickets in 12 matches and a strike rate of 11.7 for the season, he’s been one of the big stars with the ball this IPL.

Yes, those figures look considerably better after his freakish 5/18 last time out but then again, everyone’s going to have one match where they play beautifully to boost their stats and that was his.

Assuming the theory stands here at Brabourne, that tired pitches play into the hands of spinners as the tournament progresses, that’s another reason why he might come good.

Either way, with his numbers slightly better than Josh Hazlewood and considerably better than anyone else’s, he should be favourite rather than 11/4 joint-favourite alongside Hazlewood and Harshal Patel. That will do us just fine.

Back Chennai to stay in the hunt

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Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians
Thursday May 12, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Chennai cling on

My last prediction went entirely to plan as Devon Conway led CSK to victory over Delhi on Sunday. Clearly there were issues at the start of the tournament but Chennai finally have the ideal balance in the team and the right mix of overseas players.

New Zealand’s Conway is a force in all formats while Moeen Ali’s contributions have largely come with ball in hand. I’d prefer to see Dwaine Pretorious in for Dwayne Bravo who is probably one to move on at the end of the season.

It may be all too late but the Super Kings have some momentum and I expect them to keep fighting until a playoff slot becomes mathematically impossible.

Mumbai move on

For Mumbai Indians, it’s all about 2023 and how the franchise responds to a dismal season. Just two wins from 11 games means that the most successful team in tournament history are the first to be eliminated at IPL 15.

Players such as Kieron Pollard will come under the spotlight as Mumbai fans regret the decision to leave Tim David out of the side for so long. David is a ready-made replacement and one of a number of reasons why those supporters can be positive for the future.

With teenagers Tilak Varma and Dewald Brevis improving and Jofra Archer to come in, 2023 can be bright. For now, a Mumbai Indians team who are already eliminated after making 113 against KKR last time out, are set to drift for the remainder of the competition.

No home comforts at the Wankhede

Mumbai Indians might feel at home at the Wankhede Stadium but they are winless here at IPL 15. Chennai have also lost on two previous visits to this ground so something has to give on Thursday.

In 14 games on these Wankhede surfaces, the average first innings score comes in at a shade over 171. There is an even split with seven games going to the chasing side and the remaining seven to the side taking first knock.

The toss may not, therefore, have great relevance but expect the winning skipper to insert and look to restrict their opponents to something around that 171 average.

Four wins from 11 games isn’t exactly a stunning record but it’s enough to give CSK the edge over their bottom of the table opponents. Chennai start as favourites at 1.875/6 while Mumbai Indians are trailing at 2.1211/10.

Three of those Super Kings victories have come in their last five games so there is some momentum. Hope of a playoff place, however faint, is also driving CSK.

Mumbai, with nothing to play for, should capitulate against a Chennai team that has found the right formula at the wrong time.

It’s not been the best of tournaments for Ambati Rayudu and he could be playing for his future place. He did top score in the win over Mumbai in the reverse fixture and I just feel he has a point to get across in this improving side.

Based on the old, class is permanent, form is temporary cliché, I’m backing Rayudu to top score for Chennai Super Kings at 9/2. Other options include Ruturaj Gaikwad, who is boosted on the Sportsbook to 3/1, plus Devon Conway at 11/4, Moeen Ali at 15/2 and MS Dhoni at 20/1.

When you’re relying on Ishan Kishan for runs, you know your team is in trouble. That’s unfair, I know, but he’s not the most consistent of batters at the top of the order. Kishan has, however, top scored in each of Mumbai’s last two games and he’s available at 11/4 to do so again.

I’m staying with two tips for this game but there are more options. At the #OddsOnThat section of the sportsbook, Ishan Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad to each hit at least 30 runs looks especially tempting at 4/1.

Delhi to miss out on play-off charge

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Rajasthan Royals v Delhi Capitals
Wednesday 11 May, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Royals closing in

Rajasthan snapped a two-game losing streak by beating Punjab Kings and progression to the play-offs looks assured with rivals suffering from more significant issues.

Their longevity in the knockouts, however, is threatened by continuing concerns about their bowling. They are proving pricey in the field. They conceded 189 against Punjab while Gujarat got hold of their attack and both Delhi and KKR breached 200.

What they do well is hit. Having chased superbly against Punjab they will back themselves to get anything. They are not too relaint on Jos Buttler, either, with Yas Jaiswal finding touch.

Possible XI: Jaiswal, Buttler, Samson, Paddikal, Hetmyer, Parag, Ashwin, Boult, Krishna, Chahal, Sen

Delhi under pressure

Putting a sequence of wins together has proved beyond Delhi. But they must do it now or never. They need results to go there way elsewhere if they are to make the last four.

A strong win over Sunrisers gave hope that they would finally find some rhythm before a desperately disappointing defeat by Chennai. They were hammered by 91 runs after conceding 208 and being bowled out for just 117.

And they appear to be unclear of their best line-up with Srikar Bharat, Ripal Patel and Anrich Nortje all coming into the side of late. They appear to be trying to cover for the poor form of Mitchell Marsh and Rishabh Pant who have not delivered.

Probable XI: Warner, Bharat, M Marsh, Pant, Powell, Ripal, Axar, Shardul, Kuldeep, Nortje, Khaleel

Pitch report

The first-innings scores at the DY Patil this season (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent first) read: 165-1/208-1/143-2/158-2/156-1/155-2/181-1/151-1/192-1/216-1/162-2/154-2/149-2/169-1/193-1/128-2/205-2.

Kolkata managed 165 versus Mumbai last time and that proved enough despite it being five runs below the par score.

We’re likely to have to pay high 170s on the par line. But that’s not too bad because these two teams shared 429 runs when they met previously this tournament, Royals defending 222. Sportsbook go 6.5 that both bust 170, 12/5 that both bust 180, 9/2 for both 190 and 10/1 for both 200. Bet the Sportsbook markets here.

Royals stronger

The Royals are 1.845/6 with Delhi 2.1211/10. Given the different levels of self-assuredness between these two sides, the Royals look fair favourites.

They know exactly what they’re about and appear to have accepted that they can be expensive in the field. They have a settled XI and a calmness about them.

Delhi are under pressure and not sure who to pick. The debate around how Pant should play is a personification of their issues.

Given Royals’ confidence chasing, in and ideal world they would prove profligate in the field and then we can take odds-against them going after something in the 190 region. Bet the match odds here.

Tops value

Buttler and David Warner are boosted to 21/10 and 3/1 respectively to top score for their teams with Sportsbook. Both are wagers on win rates. Buttler is also even money for 30 or more and Warner 5/4.

For some time we have been banging on about Shardul Thakur as value for top Delhi bat. He was one run shy of copping against Chennai. Sportsbook go 35/1. Perhaps that is his best chance gone but he looks to be underrated. Srikar Bharat is overpriced at 5/1 in terms of batting order but we’re not convinced by his ability with a career strike rate of 109.

Bet the Sportsbook markets here.

How to bet this week’s IPL on Cricket…Only Bettor

Lucknow Super Giants v Gujurat Titans IPL Tips: LSG have the momentum

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Lucknow Super Giants v Gujurat Titans
Tuesday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Whoever wins this top of the table clash will be guaranteed a play-off spot, and highly likely to finish in the top-two. The latter target means a critical advantage – two cracks at reaching the final. Both of these new franchises are tied on 16 points and the betting is exactly even, with 2.01/1 available about either side.

Such odds may be fair based on their efforts throughout the season, but there’s no question about which side has the momentum. Lucknow have won four on the bounce. Gujarat have lost their last two. Furthermore, most of the margins involved in those results were one-sided.

LSG now favourites for the title

First to Lucknow, tipped for the title in my last preview and previously on Cricket…Only Bettor when available at 7.06/1. They’ve since assumed favouritism at 3.711/4 and I wouldn’t deter anyone from betting at those odds.

It is impossible to argue with Lucknow’s credentials. Their top-three batsmen have contributed more than 1,100 runs. Skipper K.L. Rahul is second on the tournament list, despite a slow start and a couple of ducks. Quinton de Kock is sixth, Deepak Hooda 14th, despite often batting lower down. Chances for the rest have therefore been limited but, if necessary, they have real depth, batting down to at least nine.

They have five bowlers with strong IPL pedigree, including two spinners, yet all are being eclipsed by one of the finds of the tournament. In five matches, Mohsin Khan has taken nine wickets at an economy of 5.35. He can bat, too.

Titans have hit a bad run

Given they have the same number of points, it would be churlish to question Gujarat’s credentials but their success has come as a surprise to me. While their bowling is dominated by world-class trio Rashid Khan, Lockie Ferguson and Mohammed Shami, their batting pales by comparison to these opponents.

Hardik Pandya and Shubman Gill aside, I’m not convinced the rest would walk into many other IPL line-ups. At least on that front, Wriddhiman Saha may have solved the problem of finding an opening partner for Gill.

It must be a concern that their last two results were defeat to bottom-feeders Mumbai and a thrashing by Punjab. I simply don’t price this one up as an even contest. Lucknow must represent value at even money.

Does the toss matter at Pune?

Usually of course, one should be wary of betting pre-toss but in this case, I really doubt how much it matters. In this season’s 11 matches at the MCA International Stadium, Pune, every toss winner elected to field. Yet only three went on to win. The last five matches were won by the team batting first and all by comprehensive margins. (Twice by Lucknow).

Regarding 1st Innings Runs, I’m wary of betting before seeing how the pitch plays in the early overs. There is a marked difference between the strips in use. I think 175 is a very good total and note the three successful chases were all below that target.

The Total Sixes line is Over/Under 14.5. ‘Overs’ landed in seven of the 11 matches but beware that these numbers are liable to fall as the tournament progresses and pitches wear.

Rahul must be value at enhanced odds

Regarding Top Team Runscorer, the two #OddsBoosts are for K.L. Rahul and Shubman Gill – enhanced to 11/4 and 3/1 respectively. The former is a no-brainer at these odds. Backing them in each IPL match over the years would definitely have yielded a profit. He’ll be itching for another big score after Saturday’s duck, too.

For Titans, try a speculative punt on Alzarri Joseph at 100/1. He’s been batting among the tail but has often been promoted during the CPL or for the West Indies. Much stranger things have happened and we could end up on a fantastic value bet.

Finally for Man of the Match, split a unit stake on two Lucknow bowlers. Take 20/1 about the aforementioned Mohsin Khan, who won this on his penultimate start. Also 14/1 is big about Avesh Khan, given he’s won the award twice in nine starts this term, following on from an excellent 2021 season with Delhi.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

Back Chennai to keep battling

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Chennai Super Kings v Delhi Capitals
Sunday May 8th, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Super Kings fight on

While it’s not mathematically impossible for Chennai Super Kings to squeeze into the playoffs, the main aim is to climb up the table and avoid the Wooden Spoon slot. Mumbai’s win on Friday keeps the pressure on in that respect but CSK are improving after a dreadful start.

Some T20 sides may be reluctant to use Devon Conway. He’s an exceptional test batter but can be effective in all three formats. His 56 from 37 balls against RCB last time out suggests his inclusion was overdue.

Despite that loss to the Royal Challengers, Chennai are looking stronger with Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad in the runs. The return of Moeen Ali also benefits the team and CSK have belatedly found the right formula.

David driving Delhi

David Warner had a point to prove against former employers the Sunrisers and he did that emphatically on Thursday. 92 from just 58 balls set up the win and keeps his current Delhi franchise in the hunt for a playoff place.

A lack of consistency has kept Delhi in mid table: Rishabh Pant’s form has been patchy and there is an over reliance on Warner for runs at times. Rovman Powell is another batter who needs to deliver more regularly although his 67 against SRH was a positive sign.

Kuldeep Yadav’s form has been a bonus but the loss of Kagiso Rabada, and some expensive returns from Anrich Nortje, have hurt the Capitals at times.

Destination DY Patil

The DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai hosts Sunday’s game. Chennai have secured two of their three wins here while Delhi have lost on their only previous visit so that could be a good indicator for CSK backers.

In 14 IPL 15 games on this ground to date, the average first innings score clocks in at 166. Nine of those matches have gone with the chasing side while the remaining five have been won by the team taking first knock.

Scores are dipping: The last five first innings totals range between 143 and 158 and all but one of those targets has been chased down. Clearly it’s a day to insert and restrict the opposition to 160 or fewer.

Four points separate these teams but there’s far greater interest in Delhi Capitals who are on offer at 1.875/6. Chennai Super Kings follow at a relatively distant 2.0811/10.

Getting the correct balance of overseas players is tricky for any team but Chennai finally seem to be getting it right. I like the look of this side with Moeen Ali, Devon Conway, Maheesh Theekshana and Dwaine Pretorious in the team, with some outlets listing Moeen as the MVP against RCB.

They may have lost against Bangalore but CSK have good momentum and, against an inconsistent Delhi team, I’m backing them to get over the line.

A double century on debut seemed to mark Devon Conway as a test match specialist. He actually has two T20 hundreds to his name with an impressive average of 44.42 in this format. The Kiwi is in good form and I’m backing him to make the difference on Sunday.

Conway is on offer at 11/4 to be Chennai’s top batter in a market where Ruturaj Gaikwad starts as favourite at 13/5. Other options for CSK include Robin Uthappa at 4/1, Moeen Ali at 4/1 and MS Dhoni at 18/1.

The return of Mitchell Marsh offers a boost in all areas of Delhi’s game. If I were to take a third pick, I’d be interested in the 4/1 on Marsh to be the Capitals’ top batter.

Over in the #OddsOnThat section, Mitchell Marsh to hit a 4 and a 6 is, appropriately, quoted at 4/6.

Sunrisers Hyderabad v Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL Tips: Hazlewood to hurt SRH

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Sunrisers Hyderabad v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Sunday 8 May, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Williamson killing SRH

Sunrisers have reverted to type. They are turning in some stinkers. It’s three losses on the bounce and their play-off aspirations are fading fast.

Previously their mean bowling was keeping them interested. They have conceded 207 and 202 in their last two against Delhi and Chennai respectively and failed to defend 195 against Gujarat.

When the bowling is going round the park that heaps more pressure on an antiquated batting strategy. Kane Williamson is killing them at the top of the or-der. He is now striking at a barely believable 96 and leaving his team-mates with far too much to do.

Possible XI: Abhishek, Williamson ,Tripathi, Markram, Pooran, Shahsank, Abbott, Gopal, Kumar, Tyagi, Malik

Back in it

Bangalore are back in the hunt following a success over the Chennai Super Kings. It snapped a three-game losing streak.

Their problems, or rather problem, is not unrelated to Sunrisers. They have a big game batter who is playing for himself and is too big a name to drop: Virat Kohli. Witness his 58 from 53 balls against Gujarat which cost RCB the game.

Kohli produced another awful effort against Chennai with 30 from 33 and RCB were grateful for Faf Du Plessis who struck at 170. Fast runs for Mahipal Lomror and Rajit Patidar were significant boosts and will bolster confidence.

Probable XI: Kohli, Du Plessis, Maxwell, Lomror, Patidar, Karthik, Hasaranga, Shahbaz, Harshal, Siraj, Hazlewood.

Pitch report

The first-innings scores at the Wankhede this season (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent first) read: 189-tbc/152-2/195-1/146-2/195-2/187-1/168-1/222-1/189-1/165-1/169-2/137-2/158-2/131-2.
It’s something of a mixed bag. There was an early chase bias which has eroded. There have been some moderate scores defended and a couple of whoppers.

As discussed on Cricket…Only Bettor herethe best strategy is to bet in-play and expect a late runs charge at the death. This can throw up some big value on the innings runs market. Bet the market here

Sunrisers going down

Bangalore are 1.875/6 with Sunrisers pushing on for 2.1011/10. We were hoping for a closer affair on the odds with the market remembering the previous meeting between the two but it isn’t to be.

Sunrisers thrashed RCB by nine wickets after bowling them out for just 68. Marco Jansen and T Natarajan took three wickets apiece.

Still, RCB are probably fair favourites. We think there are significant problems for Sunrisers with the bat and those two key performances from Lomror and Patidar will breathe new life into the RCB batting.

The toss could be key. Sunrisers should want to defend to assist their batting line-up getting into a state after Williamson’s go-slow. As they are short of spin options they could go round the park again on a fresh pitch bowling first. Bet the match odds here

Tops value

Du Plessis is decent at 11/4 with Sportsbook for top RCB bat on how often he wins. Glenn Maxwell’s form and returns are not good enough to warrant taking the 7/2. The big rick is Lomror at 9/1 after he top scored from No 4 last time out.

Nic Pooran has been doing it all on his own for Sunrisers and the 11/2 catches the eye. But so do big prices below him. With a flaky batting line up Sean Abbott has appeal at 25s. Likewise Washington Sundar at the same. Sundar, however, is a doubt after picking up an injury two games ago.

With Natarajan out of the side Umran Malik should be favourite for top SRH bowler. The 11/4 is de-cent. Josh Hazelwood remains reliable at 11/4 for top RCB bowler, particularly as he is getting overs at the death.

Sunrisers Hyderabad v Chennai Super Kings IPL Tips: Sunrisers underrated

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Sunrisers Hyderabad v Chennai Super Kings
Sunday 1 May, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Punjab still unbalanced

Sunrisers have been on an extraordinary run, winning five of their last six. It was ironic that defeat came against Gujarat Titans when their batting belatedly fired.

They have been consistently ponderous with the willow and rate no higher than seventh for boundary percentage. Surprising then that they failed to defend 195 when they are No 1-ranked for bowling boundary percentage.

Instead of worrying what to expect a return to the status quo looks likely. That means Abhishek Sharma and Kane Williamson going slowly up front and leaving all the hard work to the likes of Aiden Markram and Nic Pooran. The bowling should return to top notch.

Possible XI: Abhishek, Williamson, Tripathi, Markram, Pooran, Sundar, Shahshank, Jansen, Kumar, Natarajan, Malik

Giants steady

Chennai’s play-off hopes are only mathematically alive after two wins in eight. They have failed to look like current holders.

There are mitigating circumstances. Before a ball was bowled key pacer Deepak Chahar was ruled out of the tournament and they’ve not come to terms with that.

Defeat by a chaotic and inconsistent Punjab team last time out was damning. Selection has been confused. Mitchell Santner at No 3 instead of Moeen Ali? Really? Ravi Jadja has been a disaster as skipper in terms of his own form.

Probable XI: Gaikwad, Uthappa, Santner, Dube, Rayudu, Jadeja, Dhoni, Pretorius, Brave, Choudhury, Theekshana

Pitch report

The eight first-innings scores at Pune this season (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent first) read: 158-1/144-1/169-2/198-1/151-2/161-2/171-1/210-1.

The surface continues to not live up to its reputation for runs. A first-innings average of 170 sounds healthy but when you’re paying mid-170s or high 170s on the runs par line it’s not so good.

Last time out Lucknow really struggled against Punjab, a previously pricey bowling attack. With the Chennai batting flaky and Sunrisers hot with the ball, it’s an unders wager if the toss goes our way. Bet the runs par line here

Sunrisers shining

Sunrisers are 1.9720/21 with Chennai not much bigger at 2.0421/20. We’re surprised the market can’t split these to considering recent form and position on the table. Surely the numbers haven’t been produced because of historic reputation? Bet the match odds here

If there’s one team that this Sunrisers team would not be worried about facing it is Chennai. They lack the bowling power to expose that consistent trend for underperformance with the bat while their own wilowmen have been underwhelming.

Indeed, Sunrisers thrashed CSK by eight wickets earlier in the tournament and we wouldn’t be sur-prised if it is a similarly easy encounter.

Tops value

Ruturaj Gaikwad is available at 3/1 for top CSK bat. He has had a disappointing tournament but we will take a risk. It’s value on how often he wins and he showed glimpses of form against Punjab. Gaikwad has very little to beat. Santner, at No 3, is rated at 11/1. It’s wrong on order but not on abil-ity.

For Sunrisers, Williamson is 11/10 fot more than 30 runs. There could be value in backing Marco Janesen at 5s for a late cameo.

Their standout performer is with the ball and Umran Malik should probably be jolly for top bowler instead of a tasty 10/3. He took five wickets against Gujarat.

With both teams lacking batting power, going under sixes at 15.5 isn’t a bad shout. The ground av-erage is 16 and the tournament average is 14.5. The odds are 5/6.

Bet the Sportsbook odds here
Bet the match odds here

Back Mumbai to upset league leaders

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Gujarat Titans v Mumbai Indians
Friday May 6th, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Titans tighten their grip

At this advanced stage of the season, brand new franchise the Gujarat Titans look set to make it through to the playoffs at the first time of asking. There’s a lot to like about this team with captain Hardik Pandya setting the example via a string of impressive displays with the bat.

When one of their key overseas picks – Matthew Wade – was struggling, the Titans didn’t make the mistake of hanging around, waiting for him to improve. The experienced Wriddhiman Saha was called up and has since offered a reliable presence with the bat and the gloves.

Like all good T20 sides, Gujarat are nicely balanced in all departments, but several players need to respond after a poor showing against Punjab last time out.

Mumbai leave it too late

Mumbai Indians have traditionally been slow starters but the most successful team in the history of the IPL left it too late this year. Victory over Rajasthan Royals last time out was their first win at the ninth time of asking but it’s done little to lift spirits.

It’s hard to see quite what’s gone wrong. Clearly if they’d retained certain players such as the Pandya brothers the results may have been different but Mumbai have kept much of their historically successful squad.

Maybe, as CSK are finding, the ageing process is catching up with some senior players while it’s never wise to rely on inconsistent players such as Ishan Kishan to deliver every time.

Battle commences at the Brabourne

The Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai takes on hosting duties for Friday’s game. Gujarat Titans have won both of their previous IPL 15 games at this ground while Mumbai are winless from two.

The average first innings score after 11 matches is 174 and that’s a healthy one, especially as it includes a dismal effort of 68 from RCB. Four of those 11 games have gone with the side batting first while the remaining targets have all been chased down.

The toss hasn’t always been vital in this year’s tournament but it will be a case of inserting and looking to restrict the opposition to around the 170 mark.

Considering that the top team are playing the bottom side, the result betting is notably tight. League leaders Gujarat Titans are in front at 1.9620/21 while Wooden Spoon contenders Mumbai Indians are not too far behind at 2.0421/20.

It may be too late for Mumbai but I am expecting a response following that win over Rajasthan on Saturday. I’m dubious about the concept of ‘playing for pride’ but the most successful team in the IPL will be desperate to climb off the bottom.

Although skipper Rohit Sharma’s lack of runs is a concern, things are belatedly falling into place for Mumbai Indians and I’m backing the outsiders this time.

Another batter under pressure to score runs on a consistent basis is Mumbai’s Suryakumar Yadav. The man known as ‘Sky’ delivered last time out with 51 from 39 balls against Rajasthan and that’s the fourth time he’s top scored this season.

He’s the closest to consistency within this Indians squad and he’s my recommended bet at what I believe is a generous 16/5. Other options in Mumbai’s top batter market include Rohit Sharma at 12/5, Ishan Kishan at 3/1, Tilak Varma at 6/1 and Tim David at 15/2.

I’ve gone for Hardik Pandya to be Gujarat’s top batter in their last two games and he’s delivered rare failures. Maybe the pressure of captaincy is starting to have an effect, but Hardik remains the biggest threat to Mumbai.

Hardik to top score for the Titans looks good at 16/5 if you want a third tip while a tempter in the #OddsOnThat section of the sportsbook has 15/2 on the Titans’ skipper to hit a 6, take a wicket and a catch.

Bet on Delhi a Capital idea

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Delhi Capitals v Sunrisers Hyderabad
Thursday 5 May, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Delhi have to go now

It’s now or never for a talented and well-balanced Delhi squad. A win puts them right back into the play-off picture with a superior net run rate a major boost. A defeat, though, leaves them struggling.

They just haven’t got going in the tournament. Defeat by Super Giants last time out by six runs was desperately disappointing as they repeated previous mistakes, namely ponderous batting up front in a chase.

Mitchell Marsh is back after a bout of Covid and the camp appears to be in fine fettle after the virus threatened to run riot. They have options to freshen up their bowling with Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi both on standby.

Possible XI: Shaw, Warner, M Marsh, Pant, Yadav, Powell, Axar, Thakur, Kuldeep, Mustafizur, Sakariya

End of the road

Sunrisers Hyderabad have flattered to deceive and it would be a major surprise if they were able to hold on to a play-off spot.

We have consistently said that, at some stage, the disastrously slow batting of Kane Williamson (striking at less than 100) and Abhishek Sharma will put intolerable pressure on the middle-order. On a flat pitch here they could come unstuck.

Against Chennai last time Williamson looked as though he was really struggling for timing as they failed to have an interest in a chase of 203. It’s a clue that even with Aiden Markram and Nic Pooran striking at 170 and 193 they were still 13 runs shy.

Two defeats on the spin has also put their bowling attack under pressure. On a flat pitch in Pune versus CSK they seemed to have no clue how to stem the flow which was bonkers.

Probable XI: Abhishek, Williamson ,Tripathi, Markram, Pooran, Shahsank, Sundar, Jansen, Kumar, Natarajan, Malik

Pitch report

The first-innings scores at the Brabourne this season (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent first) read: 170-2/68-2/115-2/217-1/199-1/175-2/215-1/189-2/180-1/210-2/177-2.

The surface continues to live up to its reputation for runs, despite those strangely low totals by RCB (68) versus Sunrisers and Punjab (115) v Delhi. It’s interesting to see whether those two efforts by the bowling teams in action make the batting units more circumspect. Do they worry it’s more of a minefield than it is?

One should hope not as with eight matches out 11 producing 170 score for both teams, Sportsbook’s 13/10 has appeal. Bet the Sportsbook markets here

Sunrisers going down

We got burnt by Sunrisers against Chennai, arguing that it was not a choice affair on recent form. That’s the last time we trust SRH.

Not that it’s a hard task this time with another pick ’em. Delhi are 1.9310/11 and on personnel and style of play (ie they give it a go with the bat) we’re happy to rate them as the superior side.

For an added comfort blanket, perhaps wait for the toss and keep the chase bias on side. Delhi’s run to the play-offs starts here. Bet the match odds here

Tops value

David Warner has been boosted to 7/2 for top Delhi bat. That seems risky given he has found his form and Rishabh Pant is a poor jolly at 3/1. Lalit Yadav also seems overpriced at 9/1 for a batter who is likely to go in at No 5. He’s far from a mug with the willow. As usual we give honourable mentions to Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur at 33s and 45.

For Sunrisers, Williamson has been boosted to 7/2 It’s not a price we’re racing to take because he looks low on confidence. Instead a big price worth a small interest is Marco Jansen at 55s.

With the ball, Umran Malik’s extreme pace could make all the difference for SRH in a competitive top bowler market. We’d have him favourite instead of 10/3. Bet the Sportsbook markets here


How to bet this week’s IPL with Cricket…Only Bettor

CSK batters are coming into form

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Royal Challengers Bangalore v Chennai Super Kings
Wednesday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

We’ve reached that stage of the season where most matches are cup finals. Almost must-win affairs, if not quite mathematically so. I find it inconceivable that 14 points will be enough to reach the play-offs, and 18 is a minimum for a top-two finish. That leaves these two sides virtually no room for error.

RCB are on 10 points with four games left. So perhaps they can afford one defeat and still sneak in. CSK are on six points so, by my reckoning, must win all five of their remaining matches and then hope other results go their way. At least, so far as this match is concerned, the latter have momentum.

Kohli’s slow strike-rate is killing RCB

Yet again, Virat Kohli’s RCB are in the process of blowing a strong position and the skipper must take the lion’s share of the blame. They’ve lost three matches on the spin. The first two were truly awful results – bowled out for 68 and 115. The most recent was borderline criminal, given the position they were in.

Batting first against Gujurat, at a ground where 180 seemed a minimum requirement and was trading at odds-on around the mid-point of their innings, they laboured to 170. Kohli top-scored with 58, but at a grim 109 strike-rate. A textbook example of a player protecting his wicket at his team’s expense. There was no excuse, given how much firepower RCB had in the shed.

At least there was one positive, in the form of Rajat Patidar’s 52 off 32. The smartest plan would be to drop Kohli, who has been a liability all season in an otherwise excellent, balanced side. But of course, that won’t happen.

Gaikwad and Conway back to explosive best

CSK kept their very faint hopes alive with a big win over Sunrisers, hitting 202. Ruturaj Gaikwad is beginning to find last year’s superb form, hitting 99, and Devon Conway made a big mark on only his second appearance with 85 not out. As ever, CSK have big runs in them but the bowling is sub-standard. None of their bowlers have an economy below 7.5.

That high-scoring affair, involving 391 runs, came at today’s ground. It was the second first innings above 200 in eight so far at the MCA International Stadium, Pune, and the third above 190. This is historically a good ground for runs, but in the previous two matches here, the pitch was slow and less than 300 runs were scored.

Some of the ‘Both Teams to Score‘ odds are tempting – particularly 5/6 about 160 and an enhanced 10/3 about 180. These two have produced many a high-scoring clash over the years and if the pitch allows, this could well be another. However I am wary, having called this pitch wrong a couple of games back, so let’s just try a small bet on the latter.

Chennai to rack up the sixes again

Sixes are more reliable here. Five of the eight matches produced 18 or more, thus making Pune the most reliable for this bet of the four grounds being used. The Total Sixes line is 15.5, with ‘Over’ available at 8/11. Alternatively Over 7.5 for either side is 5/6.

I prefer CSK for the latter option. Despite playing one game fewer, they lead RCB 73-60 in maximums and average over eight per match. They have nothing to lose and their star batsmen are finding form.

There is no obvious toss bias at Pune so, if you have a strong view on the match winner, feel free to bet pre-match. I don’t hold a strong view though – the betting is virtually even and that looks more or less correct.

Two bets advised for Man of the Match

In the Top Team Runscorer markets, the two #OddsBoosts are for Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis – to 13/5 and 3/1 respectively. Given how well he played last time, and therefore looks booked for the number three slot, 11/2 about Rajat Patidar for RCB looks fair value.

Finally, one player for each side in the Man of the Match market. Both Ravi Jadeja and Josh Hazlewood are very likely types. Both match-winners, yet neither has won this award so far this season. I’d say both are due and 14/1 represents excellent value in a 22-man race.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty