Mumbai Indians v Rajasthan Royals
Saturday, 11:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Prior to Friday’s match, the team batting second had won six out of seven matches. The only team to defy that were Rajasthan Royals, who trounced Sunrisers on Tuesday. That was an important signal of their progress but we’ll learn a lot more about their revamped squad today, up against one of the giants of IPL.

Royals are this year’s most improved side

The market rates five-time champions Mumbai favourites for this at 1.814/5, compared to 2.226/5 about Rajasthan. Leaving aside that taking odds-on ahead of the toss is a risk one should almost always avoid, Mumbai stand out as particularly poor value. This is a price based on history, rather than the reality of the new ten-team IPL set-up.

My early conclusion is that having two extra teams is quite a leveller. More teams means fewer class acts sitting on the bench and strong squads which have been settled for years now need rebuilding. Whilst possessing superstars, Mumbai lack the depth of old. Whereas the one team whose chances are transformed this season are Rajasthan.

One cannot argue with the core of this Mumbai side. A world-class, prolific opening pair in Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan. Super-powerful finishers in Kieron Pollard and Tim David. A superb all-rounder in Daniel Sams and two of the finest T20 bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah and Tymal Mills.

Mumbai need Yadav back and in-form

However the rest leave much to be desired, especially if Suryakumar Yadav doesn’t return from injury or recapture his form immediately. Cricinfo do have him in their forecast line-ups, listed below.

Mumbai: Sharma, Kishan, Varma, Yadav, David, Pollard, Sams/Allen, M Ashwin, Mills, Bumrah, Thampi.

Rajasthan: Buttler, Jaiswal, Padikkal, Samson, Hetmeyer, Parag, Neesham/Coulter-Nile, R Ashwin, Boult, Krishna, Chahal

For my money, Mumbai have more weak spots and certainly look inferior in the spin bowling department. Note too that, despite usually holding a big advantage over these rivals, they’ve lost five of their last eight to Royals.

Perfect start for new-look Royals

Before that big opening victory and discussing their chances on Cricket…Only Bettor, I was bullish about Rajasthan. Even more so now. A winning start was critical to build confidence and I’m leaning towards the view that they will be the team to beat. 8.07/1 is a very fair outright quote.

Remember that last season, Royals were beaten before the season begun, when their overseas contingent was decimated. They actually performed better than expected, despite finishing second bottom. However whereas every other squad has lost players, they’ve gained several and the new signings are superb.

Particularly the bowlers. 16 of their 20 overs will be bowled by international pacemen or spinners. Trent Boult and Yuzvendra Chahal are right at the very top of the game. Any team will have their work cut out slogging that lot.

As this is a morning match, dew won’t be a factor. In those circumstances, I’m happy to overlook fears about the toss and simply get on board a top-value outsider. Take the 2.245/4 about Royals.

It is much harder to make a confident call regarding 1st Innings Runs. The two matches so far at DY Patil Stadium produced completely different trends. In the first, 205 was successfully chased in a match involving 27 sixes. In the second, it took RCB until the final over to chase a paltry 129.

This ground likely to produce high sixes count

Notably, the latter match produced 12 sixes. That is very high for a game involving just 260 runs. The boundaries are vulnerable at this ground and both sides have plenty of power to capitalise. I’d price the par line at least a couple higher than 14.5 and am happy to take 1.84/5 about ‘overs’ in that market.

Betfair Sportsbook have three #OddsBoosts today. First, Both Teams to Score 180 is enhanced to 11/4. That seems a generous offer, given what happened in the first match and those boundaries.

Try emerging star David for top bat

The other two offers are, as usual, in the Top Team Runscorer markets. Rohit Sharma is enhanced to 11/4 for Mumbai, while Jos Buttler is at 13/5 to top-score for Rajasthan. Both plenty short enough for me.

A better value bet in my view is Tim David at 9/1 to top-score for Mumbai. The Singaporean has been making a big impact as a finisher in T20 franchise cricket, especially in the Pakistan Super League. He could make mincemeat of these boundaries and if that Cricinfo line-up is correct, he’ll come in at five.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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