As predicted here last week, Royal Challengers Bangalore are the latest to suffer that fate as their poor away form has seen them slip back into second place, a win behind new leaders Chennai Super Kings having played a game more.
That slip is good news for Bangalore fans, though, as it means that the odds on them winning have drifted out to. Chennai’s odds have shortened, although perhaps not as much as you might have expected. This is due to the surprise decision of the IPL’s management to remove two of the playoff games from Chennai. Tensions between the government of Tamil Nadu and the Sri Lankan government have meant that Sri Lankan players have not been allowed to play in Chennai this year and whilst clearly this is a very fair decision to those teams who have Sri Lankans in their squad (and especially to the three sides who are captained by Sri Lankans), it means that Chennai cannot have a home tie in the playoffs.
Of the other teams, Rajasthan Royals are hanging on to third spot, but are under pressure from long time leaders Mumbai Indians, who after a slump have won three games on the trot. A significant factor here has been the dropping of captain Ricky Ponting in favour of West Indian Dwayne Smith, who has responded by scoring 143 runs in those three games. Things haven’t gone too badly for the new captain, either, with Rohit Sharma scoring 122 runs of his own.
At the moment I’m sticking with Bangalore at 4/1 with Sportingbet, but hedging slightly with Chennai whilst they are still at 2/1.
Things are pretty much the same down at the bottom of the table. Delhi Daredevils have been completely unable to build upon last week’s surprise win over Mumbai, but they did win the battle of the bottom sides by beating Pune by the comfortable margin of 15 runs. The Warriors continue to look like a side who have rarely played cricket before, but will hope to turn their season around with four of their next five games being at home.
Defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders continue to struggle. They are now just one win off the bottom spot, having followed Friday’s convincing win over the side one place above them in the table, Kings XI Punjab, with an equally thorough defeat against Chennai. I still think Kolkata could be the ones to finish bottom and they can be added to your sports picks at around about 4/1 with Betfair at the moment.
In the battle to be top runscorer Chris Gayle of Bangalore still leads the way, but like his team he’s struggling on unfamiliar pitches and his lead has been cut from almost 100 runs last week to just 29 this week. Mike Hussey of Chennai is the man chasing and he missed a chance to go top on Tuesday when allowing the relatively feeble Pune attack to dismiss him for just five. He rarely fails in this form of cricket and whilst not an explosive batsman like Gayle is an assiduous accumulator of runs and is well worth backing at betting odds of 2/1 (Betfair), especially considering that Gayle is still odds-on in this market.
In the top bowler race, there is a tie at the top between another Chennai player, Dwayne Bravo, and the latest recruit to the Australian Test side, James Faulkner. The problem with backing either of these is that neither may see the month out. Bravo has yet to play a full IPL without succumbing to some kind of injury whilst Faulkner may be recalled by Australia before the tournament is over. Vinay Kumar of Bangalore is another loser this week, slipping from top spot to joint third after failing to pick up a wicket, whilst last year’s champion Sunil Narine accompanies him on 15 strikes. The man I like the look of, though, is Amit Mishra from Sunrisers Hyderabad. He’s consistently picked up wickets both home and away, is likely to play every game and at around 3/1 with Bet365 he’s a better price than the others, too.