The IPL play-offs kick-off today, with a table-topping match up between the Mumbai Indians and the Rising Pune Supergiant.
The top two square off for a route straight into the final, the loser steps into a semi-final match up with the winner of tomorrows game between Hyderabad and Kolkatta.
Everything points to the Indians. They have experience of these latter stages, they have home advantage and they have a predominantly stable squad, having lost only Jos Buttler to international duties. They had anticipated this move by phasing him out over the previous couple of weeks.
The RPS had no such luxury as they battled to confirm their play-off place. They are faced with losing one of the tournament’s top bowlers in Imran Tahir, and arguably the world’s best T20 player in all-rounder Ben Stokes.
We think that fatally weakens the RPS challenge with bat and particularly with ball.
The Indians love to chase totals. They have a varied bowling attack which could put the squeeze on RPS, and, knowing that they can see off the dangerous RPS left-armer Unadkat, can probably play a low risk game in chasing down the runs.
This should suit an Indians top order batsman to score the most runs for their side, and West Indian opener Lendl Simmons, the Buttler replacement, has been in fine form and makes huge appeal to top the runs charts.
The Trinidadian is an experienced opener in this form of cricket, and will know exactly how to mix caution and aggression in the early part of the innings.
Recommendation: Lendl Simmons, Top Mumbai batsman, 4/1, Ladbrokes & Coral
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