Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kings XI Punjab
Thursday, 15:00 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
When these two sides met in the reverse fixture, Punjab ran out winners by 97 runs. A result that looks bizarre set against their respective fortunes this term. That is their only win in seven, whereas RCB have won five from the same number of games.
Final chance for Punjab play-off hopes
Punjab probably need to win all seven remaining matches to reach the play-offs. To be fair, they haven’t been so bad but keep snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. In another scenario they would have won a Super Over in the first match, defended a 223 and completed what looked an easy chase against KKR last time.
They’ve had five days to regroup since that shocker and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them come out fighting, with nothing to lose.
It seems remarkable that the team with the two leading tournament runscorers, Rahul and Agarwal are in bottom place. They have certainly got the middle-order talent to improve.
Bangalore bowlers finally a good unit
Opposing Bangalore has proven a very costly experience for me, unlike previous seasons. No complaints. Their bowlers have proved me wrong. As Ed Hawkins pointed out in his halfway update, they’ve suddenly found a cohesive unit.
Given their strength up top, that now makes for an extremely formidable line-up. AB De Villiers was magnificent in the last match with 73 off 33, following Virat Kohli’s match-winning effort against CSK.
Scoring getting harder at Sharjah
That De Villiers innings came at today’s ground and propelled the first innings total to 194. The run line opened at 195 and so proved bang on but by my reckoning, it was in fact 25 over par.
That follows 184 in the previous match, after a spate of 200 plus scores, but conditions are definitely getting slower. Runs particularly dried up once RCB’s spinners came on. Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal’s eight overs went for just 32.
Unders on sixes line rates top value
I’ll be looking to lay 180 or more 1st Innings Runs at 5/71.7. Judging by the Sixes Line, that may start even shorter. This measure actually provides a better guide to the change in conditions.
The number of sixes has fallen with each game at Sharjah. In order this season there were 33, 29, 28, 21, 17 and 10. Whilst a high estimate is legitimate given the batsmen on show, 21.5 looks way too high. Unders is a maximum bet for me at 5/6.
So far as the match result is concerned, I’m not about to break the habit of a lifetime and take 8/111.74 pre-match about RCB. There isn’t that much difference between them but equally, the Bangalore bowlers were really impressive at this ground on Monday. For what its worth, Kings XI lead their head-to-head 13-12.
Take the OddsBoost about Rahul
For top batsman, the OddsBoost of 11/4 about the superb KL Rahul is very fair for Punjab. The advantage for openers in T20 may apply extra here, because scoring gets harder as the innings progresses.
Kohli fans may also want to avail themselves about the enhanced 3/1 in the RCB market. I’ll leave that one, not least because the openers, Paddikal and Finch are more than capable of a big score.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty