Punjab Kings v Chennai Super Kings
Monday 25 April 15.00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Punjab mess

Punjab have lost their way badly. They started the tournament as gung-ho and confident with the bat, prepared to take on everyone and everything. But after some low totals they have gone into their shell.

A run of wins to mount a play-off challenge now looks unlikely. As soon as players stop trusting the method or strategy, they are done for.

There are also issues with balance. There was huge pressure on Odean Smith in terms of price tag and holding the team together. Despite his talent, the gamble doesn’t appear to have paid off. In their last outing they batted Kagiso Rabada at No 7.

If they used Liam Livingstone’s bowling more they could right themselves. Bringing back Bhanuka Rajapaksa instead of a becalmed Jonny Bairstow might be an idea.

Possible XI: Dhawan, Agarwal, Rajapaka, Livingstone, Jitesh, Shahrukh, Odean, Rabada, Arshdeep, Chahar, Arora.

CSK need Moeen

Chennai gave themselves a glimmer of hope by beating Mumbai Indians in their last outing. This despite dropping Moeen Ali for Mitchell Santner.

This sort of thinking suggests a resurgence is unlikely. Santner is not fit to strap Moeen’s pads for him. Chennai need to back their No 3, recognising that form is temporary in this format. For inspiration all they need to do is recognise how Ravi Jadeja is the first name on the team sheet despite woeful form.

Otherwise they are slid on their other three overseas picks: Dwaine Pretorius, Dwayne Bravo and Mahesh Theekshana have been decent. Bowling has been an issue because of injuries to Adam Milne and Deepak Chahar.

Possible XI: Gaikwad, Uthappa, Moeen, Rayudu, Dube, Jadeja, Dhoni, Pretorius, Bravo, Theekshana, Choudhury

Pitch report

The seven first-innings scores (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent first) at the Wankhede this term read: 222-1/189-1/165-1/169-2/137-2/158-2/138-2.

That’s something of a mixed bag. An apparent trend for bowlers doing well was well and truly busted by Rajasthan against Delhi. Not that in the first six overs it looked that way. Delhi had kept Jos Buttler quiet.

With both of these units struggling with the ball – Punjab are ninth worst for bowling economy and Chennai equal seventh – going over theruns par line at around 179.5 should pay off in the first dig. Both teams to score 170 at 13/10 also has appeal. Bet the Sportsbook markets here

CSK brains trust wins it

The match odds market can barely split these two. CSK are 1.991/1 with Punjab 2.01/1. Both have significant issues but Punjab’s problems seem more severe.

A check of possible XIs reveal that. Simply, Chennai can at least balance themselves even if Moeen doesn’t come back in. Punjab on the other hand may well risk Rabada at No 7 again.

Their chronic lack of confidence with the bat is ideal for a Chennai team which have brains coming out of their boots. The likes of MS Dhoni and Bravo really should be capable of putting a squeeze on.

Tops value

Shikhar Dhawan has been boosted to 11/4 for top Punjab bat with Sportsbook and it might be time to put faith in one of the most reliable performers on the market. It’s a bet on win rate.

Rajapaksa is 7/2 while a word on Jitesh Sharma at 9s. He looks a real player and such numbers might not be around for long.

For Chennai, we have to pint out a mistake. Santner is 13/1. He batted at No 3 last time. By the letter of the law we have to take it because no-one batting in such a position should be as big. The problem is Santner isn’t very good.

If you prefer a win rate bet Ruturaj Gaikwad fits the bill at a price-boosed 7/2. His form has not been great but it’s hard to ignore.

With the ball, Mukesh Choudhury looks big at 4s for top CSK bowler. His left-armers are dangerous and he knocked over Mumbai’s top order last time. Bet the Sportsbook markets here



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