Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians Tuesday 15:30
An excellent result last time out with David Warner getting his 50 (he scored 81) to see us rewarded at 3.0 and the Kings XI hitting more sixes than the Sunrisers, despite losing the match by 45 runs. That was available at 2.0.
So on we go and it’s the Qualifier tomorrow. If you’re not an avid IPL fan, here’s a reminder of how it all works. The teams who finish first and second in the Group Stages get two bites of the cherry when it comes to making the final. Whoever wins the Qualifier goes straight to the Final. Whoever loses will then play the winner of the Eliminator (played between the teams who finished third and fourth in the Group Stages) and if they win that- known as the Qualifier 2 – they will then make the final by the back door, so to speak.
Anyway, it’s Chennai at home to Mumbai tomorrow and whereas my first instinct was that Chennai were a cracking price as underdogs given they’re defending champions, the most successful team in the history of the IPL and at home for good measure, there’s a serious spanner in the works: Mumbai keep on beating Chennai. It’s now four times out of the last five that Mumbai have beaten them. But then again, Chennai are often at their best when the pressure is really on. You could therefore make a case for either side, but not at the odds on offer.
I’d rather go with two Chennai players – who know this ground inside out – to put in strong performances, whether they’re on the winning side, or not.
Imran Tahir is the IPL’s second-highest wicket-taker with 21, just four behind fellow South African Kasigo Rabada, who has 25. Tahir has played every match, bowled his maximum allocation of four overs whenever it was possible for him to do so and knows this track better than anyone. This season 70% of the wickets Chennai have taken at home have fallen to spin, so you can see why the smart move is to go with the team’s star spinner. Yes, Tahir is understandably favourite. But I’ve seen plenty of favourites for team top bowler who tick as many boxes as he does available at around 2.5; so the 3.75 isn’t to be sniffed at.
With the bat, I’m putting my faith in Faf du Plessis. It hasn’t quite been as good a season as you’d expect from someone normally as consistent as South African's World Cup captain at first glance but it’s worth delving a little deeper. He actually has the best average (39) of anyone on the side bar MS Dhoni (122) for the season. And if you’re wondering about Dhoni’s average, yes he’s played extremely well this season but because he bats between 4-6 he’s also had six not outs to boost that average through the roof.
But back to Du Plessis. Like so many champion players, he seems to be peaking at just the right time. Last time out he got 96 and before that it was 39, so he’s obviously in good nick. It’s also worth remembering that it was precisely in this very match last year – Qualifier 1, in this case against the Sunrisers – that he scored a match-winning 67 not out. Not that an excellent innings over a year ago suggests he’s going to go out and do it again but it certainly doesn’t do any harm; it’s proof he handles the pressure well in the biggest IPL games.
On home soil, opening the batting and in good form, he’s considerably bigger than I would have expected at 4.33.
Back Imran Tahir to be Chennai Top Bowler @ 3.75 with Betfair Sportsbook
Back Faf du Plessis to be Chennai Top Batsman @ 4.33 with Skybet.