Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kolkata Knight Riders



Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kolkata Knight Riders
Monday, 15:00 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Tied on eight points after six matches, these two sides are currently in the play-off zone. The winner will join a three-way at the top with Mumbai and Delhi.

Kohli back to his best

For RCB, a play-off appearance would be their first in four years. With Virat Kohli finding form after a slow start to the tournament, they must have every chance.

The skipper’s wonderful 90 off 52 was the key to beating Chennai on Sunday. At one stage par was below 145 before Kohli took off to set a daunting 169. At a much smaller ground today, he could be devastating. Not to mention the rest of an extremely powerful line-up.

Death bowlers proving invaluable for KKR

Twice champions KKR are always there or thereabouts in the play-off hunt but have needed some miraculous recoveries to reach this position. Against Punjab, their batsmen did fantastically to reach 164. Their death bowlers even better to defend it. Previously they defended 167 from an unlikely position.

Again their power could be devastating at Sharjah’s small ground, where they hit 210 in defeat previously. They might be tempted to restore Sunil Narine to the pinch-hitting opener role given how much power is in the shed for later.

Selection is a bit of a dilemma. We’d like to see the explosive Tom Banton get a game but who to drop out of Narine, Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan and Pat Cummings? All-rounder Chris Green is another to consider.

Will scores come down at Sharjah?

So what is par at Sharjah? Delhi’s 184 last time was the first time in five matches that 200 wasn’t reached in the first innings and that came despite throwing away early wickets.

The historic average is much lower. The converse of small boundaries is the batsmen rarely run twos. There have been lots of sub-150s in recent renewals of the Pakistan Super League.

Noting too that scores have been coming down in recent days, as pitches slow, make sure to keep unders onside when trading the first innings. Par will be set very high – 190 was 1.47 to lay before Delhi’s innings.

That said, it would be no great surprise were we to see a record total today. Both sides are absolutely stacked with six-hitting potential. 230-240 is certainly within range with a good start.

Back extreme runs outcomes

I’ll avoid putting up a specific bet for 1st Innings Runs as I’m not confident where the market will open. The more broad advice is to back extremes. As explained to Ed Hawkins in the 50th edition of Cricket…Only Bettor, this is the best way to trade cricket in general and nowhere more so than Sharjah.

For me, the result will revolve around which side contains scoring better. KKR are preferred. They have a gun bowler in Pat Cummings, elite spinners in Narine and Kuldeep Yadav plus a great death bowler in Russell. A vastly superior bowling unit to RCB.

For top batsman, 23/10 about Kohli for RCB is perfectly fair but not my type of bet. Considering the importance of sixes at this ground, a case could be made for several others all the way down to Chris Morris at 20/1.

Morgan is KKR’s top man for sixes

The KKR line-up make more appeal. At 7/2, Russell looks way too short despite what he has achieved in the past. He bats too low for those odds. 8/1 about Narine factors in the potential for a promotion.

I prefer 9/2 about Eoin Morgan. He’s hit 11 sixes so far, five more than any team-mate. Also for Top KKR wicket-taker, the same odds about Kuldeep Yadav appeals if he plays, given his career record.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty