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

Who could have predicted that the two greatest sides in IPL history would be locked in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon? After six matches apiece, Chennai have just one win and Mumbai have lost the lot. This is one of four matches previewed in the latest Cricket…Only Bettor.

Mumbai’s grim season unlikely to improve

Frankly, I don’t see a comeback run to reach the play-offs as realistic for either side but to retain hopes, winning this is essential for Mumbai and more or less so for Chennai. In a ten-team format, their deficit is too big.

Mumbai are a pale shadow of their former selves, in the middle of a transition process. Their bowling looks especially weak, lacking a truly world-class spinner and too reliant on Jasprit Bumrah. None boast an economy below 7.5. Chennai have a similar problem, with only Maheesh Theekshana at 7.36 beating that benchmark.

Time for struggling star batsmen to shine?

Both sides, however, retain the ability to be explosive with the bat. It just hasn’t come off collectively yet. Suryakumar Yadav is back for Mumbai and thriving. Dewald Brevis and Tilak Varma are promising, powerful additions. At some point, Rohit Sharma will surely contribute a big score or two.

Likewise various Chennai batsmen have performed well, if rarely together. Ruturaj Gaikwad’s return to form, top-scoring with 73, was a big positive to take from a painfully narrow defeat to Gujurat on Sunday. Shivam Dube hit a wonderful 95 not out on this ground to set up their sole victory.

Chennai bat deeper and look superior

A critical difference between the two sides is the length of tail. Chennai bat deep as ever, with Mitchell Santner, Dwayne Bravo, Dwaine Pretorius and Chris Jordan filling spots after number six. Whereas Mumbai have played bowler Jaydev Unadkat at seven in some games. They surely have to beef up, bringing back Tim David or Daniel Sams.

Rather than pricing both teams at 2.01/1, I’d make Chennai favourites, partly for this reason. Also, I find it hard to see this Mumbai attack containing teams.

We’ve had 11 matches at the DY Patil Stadium and, on paper at least, the toss bias hasn’t been particularly evident. Chasers lead 6-5. Of the six successfully defended totals, 169 was the lowest. I reckon a par first innings total is there, around 170-175, but beware which strip is used. The one where Chennai hit 216 and Dube 95 was an absolute road.

Sixes line could offer a good angle

One trend I have noticed here is that scoring becomes harder at the death. In most matches, backing extreme unders with six or so overs remaining would have landed or come very close. Last weekend, multiple run lines were busted at the minimum 1.011/100 odds when Umran Malik took four wickets in an over.

Another killer stat involves Total Sixes. The line is Over/Under 14.5 but unders would have landed in seven of the last eight matches here. In six of them, there were fewer than 12. The exception was on the aforementioned road, which produced 24 maximums. Backing unders involves a punt on that strip not being used today, but the stats suggest we really must bet.

Take the enhanced offer about Gaikwad

The two enhanced batsmen are Ruturaj Gaikwad and Rohit Sharma, to 11/4 and 10/3 to respectively top-score for their sides. Gaikwad is good value at these odds. He was prolific in this market last term, despite stiff competition from the since departed Faf du Plessis and Moeen Ali, in much better form than we’ve seen so far.

For Mumbai, I prefer Kieron Pollard at 13.012/1. He hasn’t faced many balls so far but retains his extraordinary firepower. Backing him at these odds regularly would have paid dividends over the years.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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