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IPL 2015 Punjab vs. Royals best odds, news and player bets

2015 IPLMatch 3 – 8:00pm local time on Friday, April 10, 2015 at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

Kings XI Punjab – $1.50 at Bet365.com
Rajasthan Royals – $2.65 at Bovada

Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals will commence their respective Indian Premier League campaigns in Pune on Friday night, with the hosts looking to start strong after last season’s final disappointment.

George Bailey and Co. were just about preparing their victory celebrations after posting 199 in the 2014 IPL decider, but a sterling 94 from Manish Pandey saw the Kolkata Knight Riders snatch the trophy with three balls to spare.

It was a win-win for Kings XI, however, as they put to bed five straight seasons of abject failure and regained relevance for the first time since 2008 – the inaugural staging of the IPL.

Clever investment in readymade international stars and young local talent saw Punjab blossom from perennial no-hopers into one of the competition’s most dangerous and entertaining teams.

The 2014 Kings XI batting lineup was probably the best in the division, and they have only strengthened it with the addition of Murali Vijay – one of India’s star performers on an otherwise forgettable Test tour of Australia.

The big challenge for the Punjab hierarchy around IPL auction time was try and keep their core stars together for another title tilt in 2015. They succeeded, retaining the services of overseas guns like Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Johnson and Beuran Hendricks.

They’ve also managed to upgrade on the somewhat cumbersome Cheteshwar Pujara, with Vijay joining the ever-lethal Virender Sehwag and Wriddhiman Saha – the latter of whom scored a sizzling hundred in last year’s final.

Perhaps the finest string to the Punjabi bow is the crew of fresh-faced Indian talents. Manan Vohra, Sandeep Sharma and Axar Patel performed superbly well in 2014, and all are still under 22 years of age.

Rajasthan Royals, meanwhile, will begin 2015 hoping to rectify the managerial and tactical issues that saw them plummet out of title contention.

After winning six of their opening nine fixtures, Shane Watson’s charges slumped to a fifth-place finish after losing four of their five remaining league matches.

Overzealous squad rotation was widely blamed for the Royals’ collapse, as they used more players (22) than any other team in the tournament.

Along with a more settled starting XI, head coach Paddy Upton will want to get a lot more value out of imported talent like Steve Smith and James Faulkner.

The two Australians are in excellent touch after a successful 2015 Cricket World Cup on home turf, and they will be joined this year by South African all-rounder Chris Morris.

The 27-year-old was Rajasthan’s most expensive purchase at the 2015 IPL auction, and his inclusion gives the 2008 IPL champs a wealth of two-way options alongside Watson, Faulkner and Stuart Binny.

In addition to his compatriot Juan ‘Rusty’ Theron, Morris was most likely bought with an eye on tightening up the Royals’ economy rate. He holds a T20 world record: 23 dot balls from four overs, achieved with figures of 2 for 2 while playing for Cape Cobras last year.

Possible team selections

Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (C), Virender Sehwag, Murali Vijay, Manan Vohra, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Wriddhiman Saha, Axar Patel, Mitchell Johnson, Sandeep Sharma, Rishi Dhawan

Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Steve Smith, Sanju Samson, James Faulkner, Chris Morris, Rajat Bhatia, Pravin Tambe, Dhawal Kulkarni

Match predictions

Result: Kings XI to win ($1.50 at Bodog.com)
Highest opening partnership: Kings XI ($1.71 at CrownBet)
Most match sixes: Kings XI ($1.57 at Bet 365)

The online bookmakers have this one pegged as a one-sided affair, and we at MobileSportsBetting.com tend to agree with that assessment. The Punjabi opening pair of Sehwag and Vijay could be the best in the competition, so it will take some very fine bowling from the Royals to stop them sweeping the match batting markets en route to a big win in Pune.

Top team runscorer betting

Kings XI Punjab – Glenn Maxwell ($3.75 at Bet365)

You could pick out any of Punjab’s top six or seven here, but it’s hard to go past the in-form Australian slogger. The self-styled ‘Big Show’ was devastating in IPL 2014, with 552 runs at a strike rate of 187.5, and comes into the new season full of confidence after an extremely fruitful World Cup campaign for the triumphant host nation.

Rajasthan Royals – Sanju Samson ($5.50 at CrownBet.com)

At just 20 years of age, Samson is one of the brightest prospects in all of Indian cricket right now. An exquisite timer who clears boundaries for fun, the wicketkeeper-bat equalled Ajinkya Rahane as Rajasthan’s top scorer last year and is poised to make an even bigger impression in 2015.

Picks for top team bowler

Kings XI Punjab – Sandeep Sharma ($4.50 at Bet365.com)

Kings XI’s top three bowlers are hard to split based on last year’s collective contribution, but you’d have to say Sharma made more impact – and in fewer games – than either Mitch Johnson or Akshar Patel. Season stats of 11 matches, 18 wickets, strike rate 13.3 make for excellent reading. Can the 21-year-old seamer back it up in 2015?

Rajasthan Royals – James Faulkner ($3.75 at Bet365)

The Aussie all-rounder didn’t enjoy the most prolific season with the ball in 2014, finishing behind both Tambe and Bhatia in the Royals’ bowling charts. However, it’s hard to ignore Faulkner after his brilliant display in last month’s Cricket World Cup final, which garnered three crucial wickets and the man of the match award.

More Indian Premier League matches this week

Saturday, April 11
Chennai Super Kings ($1.50) vs Sunrisers Hyderabad ($2.58)
Kolkata Knight Riders ($1.87) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore ($1.93)
All odds provided by www.CrownBet.com

Sunday, April 12
Delhi Daredevils vs Rajasthan Royals
Mumbai Indians vs Kings XI Punjab

This article was written by Jess

Jess is the editor of MobileSportsBetting.com. His job duties include everything nobody else is doing, and making sure it all gets done on time. When he gets a chance, Jess loves to write about NFL, MLB, Formula 1, and tennis betting.

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