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IPL 2014 preview

In case you hadn't had enough T20 cricket with the World T20 tournament in Bangladesh, it's IPL time again. The first couple of weeks will be played in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, then back to India for the remaining month. It's a tiring event of cricket fans and traders alike, so it's handy to have some base knowledge to begin with. Thrashing out a preview is the sharpest cricket punter in Ireland, Stephen Maher, @GamblerFalls. (I'm not sure that's a particularly big compliment, but he'd rank pretty highly amongst cricket punters elsewhere too!).

The original article can be found here on his blog.

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Indian Premier League 2014

The circus has arrived for 2014 and just think 47 days from Wednesday cricket traders will be able to leave their house again, although there might be an English domestic game on that day so I wouldn’t bet on it. Anyway, its sure to be as mental as ever and I’m sure lots of shit will happen throughout the tournament but hopefully we all come out winning at the end of it. We have a team less this year, with only eight teams taking part and looking at the fixtures we have less double headers too, we also had the auction this year too so plenty of player movement and it will be interesting to see how the teams play in the early weeks. I’ll go in betting order and give a few thoughts on the squads.

Chennai Super Kings – best priced 9/2.

As always Chennai come in as favourites, or joint favourites, and who can really argue given their record, they have reached the final every year since 2009, won twice and lost twice – I said this last year but as an outright punt they really do seem “good for a trade” as its hard to see them not being involved at the death, especially compared with Bangalore who they are currently joint favourites with as they haven’t managed to get out of the group stage the last two years. All the usuals come back, Dhoni, Raina, Ashwin, Bravo, Du Plessis and Jadeja - with good additions of Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum - they have a couple of options, but personally I’d go with those four already mentioned as my foreigners in the team, interesting to see who they go with to open the batting, they have a couple of options – we’ll have to see where they go with that. As always, a very strong team on paper, consistent, and sure to be involved at the death. I wouldn’t be laying them.

Royal Challengers Bangalore – best priced 9/2.

Before you even look at the team, you have to remember that they are highly likely to play their home games on a road, and at something like 3000ft above sea level where the ball will fly to all parts, not to mention the relatively small boundaries, that naturally brings in an element of lottery to their home games, and they haven’t travelled too well in the past either. Having not got out of the group stages the last twice I personally wouldn’t touch them at 9/2 based on their bowling. I don’t see anyone in their lineup that could stop runs on a typical Bangalore road, indeed they scream going around the park – Starc, Rampaul, Aaron, Morkel and Dinda – no thanks. Can they chase 200? Well, yeah. Gayle, Kohli and AB de Villiers head up the batting, they’ve added Yuvraj too but looking at the T20 World Cup final you’d wonder is that a negative rather than a positive, other than them though the batting isn’t much to write home about bar maybe Morkel and they’ll pretty much have to do all the work, granted they are scary but at the same time I can see their bowling giving up so many that the pressure is always on type thing. Not for me at 9/2.

Hyderabad Sunrisers – best priced 11/2.

A pretty strong team on paper this year, the top three in the batting stick out – Warner, Finch, Dhawan and if things are going tits up you always have Sammy down the order to smack a few sixes – I’m probably picking holes but you might have a really poor four and five coming in to bat some games and that might be an angle to look at once we get going in the games. The bowling is strong, headed up by Dale Steyn and Amit Mishra, and they’re backed up by some hit and miss types in Sharma and Irfan/Sammy, who can have OK games or go around the park, its such a bonus though having Steyn to bowl the last few overs, as you know hes highly unlikely to go around the park, and can also win a game defending six runs needed in the over etc. A lot will depend on how their batting goes, they were let down a lot of times last year by it, and if the top three find form they surely have as good a chance if not more than Bangalore. Solid enough team.

Mumbai Indians – best priced 6/1.

Looking at the market purely you’d think they come in underrated given they are defending IPL Champions and also Champions League T20 Champions, but they just lack one star batsman to me, and seemingly will be heavily reliant on Hussey and Sharma to get the main bulk of the runs, granted though I suppose they are two you could rely on, but Hussey is retired now so its hard to know if he’ll be as prolific as last year and bar Rayudu, Pollard and maybe Corey Anderson I think they could easily collapse a few times if Hussey and Sharma go cheap – it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out. The bowling is, as always, headed up by Lasith Malinga but you’d have to question them getting Zaheer Khan, seemingly always injured and getting older, I’d have rather spent the money on another batsman and relied on the likes of Ojha etc. I think their price is fair, but no more, and I wouldn’t be rushing out to back them. Very much a see how they go early on in the tournament team, compared to the top three, they could be great or shit.

Kings XI Punjab – best priced 7/1.

Just when you think, fantastic no more mugs clogging up balls at the top of the order, they bring in Sehwag, and while he can be dangerous, he seems past his best these days. Pujara is a poor buy too, he just isn’t a T20 player and was a failure at Bangalore. Marsh is slow to get going too, I can see them wasting loads and loads of balls early and then getting bailed out by Maxwell and Miller towards the death – only problem is they aren’t gonna bail you out every time you know. Interesting to see Thisara Perera in the squad too, he probably won’t get a game but he can hit a long ball towards the death too. The bowling is headed up by Mitchell Johnson and you can see him getting all sorts of wickets early and that will surely help their cause – not mad keen on the rest of them though but if Johnson gives them a good start then they can build on that. My problem with them is I see them starting slow when it comes to their batting a good percentage of the time, and unless they play Maxwell at number three I wouldn’t have much interest in backing them to be honest.

Delhi Daredevils – best priced 8/1.

I hope they go well and KP gets on well because the English media really have it in for him, and I don’t want to read them gloating. Looking through their squad, they possibly have the biggest trouble with picking the four foreigners to get into the team. KP is captain so thats an obvious, and then if you want to bulk up the batting you pick De Kock, JP Duminy and Ross Taylor, but then that basically leaves an all Indian attack, and I’m not sure thats what I’d want. That said, the best option outside an Indian is probably Nathan Coulter-Nile, which doesn’t set the bar high really does it. I can certainly see their bowling struggling on paper, god help them at Bangalore would be a thought that comes to mind. To me they will be relying on their batting to carry them, and while it might, they wouldn’t interest me much at 8/1.

Kolkata Knight Riders – best priced 12/1.

Probably the least impressive batting on paper. Gambhir and Kallis shouldn’t be your go to men in T20, and I’m not sure how they get the big scores needed with them clogging up balls. Chris Lynn would be my favourite in their batting lineup, and at 11/1 he might be worth a few quid top batsman, although I’m not sure where he’ll bat. The bowling is headed up by Narine who will again go well on the slow pitches you’d imagine they’ll get at KKR, I reckon though away from there, or even at home, if batsmen can play him out, the rest of the bowling is very hittable and I suppose a lot will depends on how teams play Narine, if it was me I’d be happy with 4 or 5 an over off him, no big shots or high risks, and attack the rest. A lot of their batsmen will be easy to tie down too. Can’t have them on paper personally.

Rajasthan Royals – best priced 12/1.

I wouldn’t be so harsh on their batting, but if Watson goes early, I think you’ll need Steve Smith to be in fantastic form during the tournament for them to win a few games, however he did very well in the Big Bash. Rahane and Hodge are the only other two of any real note to my eyes, but Faulkner and Cutting especially and Southee (at times) can smack a few sixes down the order. I’m not sure if Cutting or Southee will get a game though. Their bowling is light to my eyes bar Faulkner, I think they’ll play a few good games along the way but really and truly shouldn’t be good enough, I’d have them a lower price than KKR all the same, but I wouldn’t be keen backing them either.



BETS

Chennai Super Kings to win outright at 9/2 general – this seems the best play looking at the outright prices to me, if unoriginal I suppose, they have the best squad on paper, they are the most consistent, they’ve added well to the squad and they know how to win. I think they’re sure to trade lower and I think its mental they are the same price as Bangalore and not outright favourites themselves, for me they are the best team by quite a bit.

Bangalore Royal Challengers most sixes at 5/2 with Stan James – there have been two teams competing in this market for the last two years, Mumbai and Bangalore, and I think Mumbai are much weaker this year. The only danger I see to Bangalore is Chennai, but Bangalore have the advantage of the best six hitting conditions and because I’m happy to be against Mumbai this year, I would have Bangalore clearer favourites than 5/2.

Glenn Maxwell Top Punjab Batsman at 4/1 with Bet Victor – I suppose I can’t really be mega confident about this because I don’t really know where he will bat in the order, but in my opinion if he bats at three, he wins this by some margin. He is by far the most naturally talented batsmen in the team and he scores his runs so quickly, he might not have to bat long in each game, to be competing. If you think about how many balls Marsh will take to “get in” he always nearly needs 20 balls to score 30, therefore more chance of getting out, Maxwell can score 30 in 10 balls as we’ve seen many times in the past. Happy enough to take on Sehwag too. Miller might not bat long enough to get a chance to win coming in down the order, but I’d rather him at 8/1 than the other two mentioned.

Mitchell Johnson Top Punjab Bowler at 7/4 with Stan James – I’m surprised he's this big. He is many, many leagues above the other bowlers in the team.

James Faulkner Top Rajasthan Bowler at 9/4 with Stan James – For much the same reasoning as above. He went really well in the IPL last year too.

Sunil Narine Top KKR Bowler at 2/1 with Stan James – I know this is obvious and boring but he really should be no bigger than 13/8.

Chris Gayle Top Batsman at 8/1 E/W with Paddy Power – Last year he was top price 3/1, and a lot of the firms were shorter, he traded heavy odds on until late on in the tournament. I know hes been hit and miss this year, but he always comes alive for the IPL, he hit 180 sixes last year, the most by a huge distance, and while Kohli is in great form and batting like god, Gayle gets first go before him in the batting order and that swings me. Its also highly likely will have good batting conditions at home every game.

Glenn Maxwell Top Batsman at 33/1 E/W with Ladbrokes – 33/1 is too big for a man with his talent, and for the same reasoning as I highlighted for backing him top Punjab batsman, he doesn’t need long to score his runs, and that is a huge plus. If he bats long he scores very high too. Again, not sure where he bats in order, but at 33/1 its worth the risk.

Glenn Maxwell to hit the most sixes at 6/1 with Stan James – Chris Gayle is 4/7 here, for an obvious reason, and pity theres no E/W allowed in the market, because I really think Maxwell is the only danger. Maxwell deals in 6s, not 4s, and I think this will be closer than the odds suggest, although granted I’m probably pissing in the wind going against Gayle here.

KKR to finish bottom at 7/2 with Coral – To me they have the worst batting on paper, and bar Narine literally carrying them through I can’t see how they can be competitive enough to not be in contention to be bottom, I’d have them clear favourites here.

Best of luck for the tournament and hopefully we all come out ahead!

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