#1 USA Sportsbook: Visit Bovada.lv

IPL: Mumbai vs. Chennai top batsmen & bowler betting

Final – 8:00pm local time on Sunday, May 24, 2015 at Eden Gardens, Kolkata

Mumbai Indians – $2.10 at www.Bet365.com
Last five results: W W W L W
League record (W-L-T): 8-6-0

Chennai Super Kings – $1.80 at Bovada Sports
Last five results: W L W L W
League record (W-L-T): 9-5-0

After nearly seven weeks of world-class Twenty20 action, it all comes down to this – and what a game it promises to be.

Chennai Super Kings emerged victorious from the second qualifier to reach their sixth Indian Premier League final in eight years, where they will meet a Mumbai Indians side looking to put the finishing touches on their Cinderella story.

Despite the latter’s indomitable form over the last four weeks, CSK are the online bookmakers’ favourites to clinch a third IPL crown. Our friends at Bovada.com are paying best odds of $1.80 for Chennai to win.

Bet on CSK

Michael Hussey is a key plank in the Super Kings IPL chances.

Having looked weary and worn in their loss to MI in the first qualifier, the Super Kings bounced back to take full advantage of their double chance on Friday night in Ranchi.

An excellent bowling performance restricted the normally explosive Royal Challengers Bangalore to just 139, before the two-time champs just about held their nerve to navigate Mitchell Starc et al and claim victory with one ball remaining.

Veteran fast bowler Ashish Nehra more than delivered on our pre-match betting predictions, taking the crucial early wickets of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers on his way to match figures of 3 for 27.

We also backed in Michael Hussey to top score for the Super Kings, and the 39-year-old Australian came through with a superb innings of 56 in just his third hit of the season.

Having warmed the bench up until Brendon McCullum left the squad for New Zealand’s Test series in England, the one they call Mr. Cricket was delighted to be back on centre stage.

“It is very satisfying to contribute in such an important game. And it is even more amazing to get to yet another final,” Hussey said on the official IPL website.

“The history of this team has been really phenomenal but it will be really nice to finish it off on Sunday.”

The West Australian left-hander returned to the Chepauk this year after a one-season stint at Mumbai, and he said he was hoping for a mirror image of what happened when these two sides met in the 2013 IPL final.

“It is going to be a great match,” continued Hussey, who ranks behind only Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni among CSK’s all-time runscorers.

“I am hoping it sort of works out like 2013 where we beat Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier to go straight to the final and then lost to them in the final. This time we lost to them in the qualifier and hopefully can turn the tables on them in the final.

“They are a great team and have been playing some really good cricket, so we are going to have to be at our best. We have to look to just start the game well and hopefully our confidence will grow from there.”

Chennai will also want to put recent head-to-head records out of their minds on Sunday, having lost their last two meetings with an Indians side that has gone from cellar dwellers to title contenders in the space of a month.

After losing their first four games of IPL 2015, Mumbai stormed to second place in the league standings with eight wins from their last 10 games.

Now, having beaten Stephen Fleming’s Super Kings in the first qualifier, Ricky Ponting and his charges are just 40 overs away from completing one of the most memorable turnarounds Twenty20 cricket history.

Mumbai won’t have the fiercely partisan Wankhede Stadium crowd on their side for the decider in Kolkata, however, which is perhaps why they have floated out to $2.10 odds in the IPL final betting at Bet365.com.

But you can’t ignore the form. Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel have morphed into arguably the most reliable opening pair in the competition, Kieron Pollard has rediscovered his joie de vive in a big way, and Lasith Malinga – who took three wickets in the qualifier – is in white-hot touch.

Simmons has been particularly impressive, with five half-centuries in 12 innings, and former coach John Wright said on mid-day.com that Chennai would do well to pay extra attention to the West Indian opener.

“Lendl Simmons is easy to under-rate, but he is a natural T20 player,” said Wright, who now looks after Mumbai’s youth development programme.

“It’s no coincidence that when he joined the team, we started to do well last year and even when the team picked up this year. He is a languid player, a very good batsman.”

The Chennai brains trust must also figure out what to do about Harbhajan Singh. The Indian spinner has won a Test recall on the back of his excellent IPL form, and he will relish the prospect of strutting his stuff on what is typically a grippy track at Eden Gardens.

In an interview with TOI, coach Ponting said: “Harbhajan has been outstanding for us again and I think this played a role in his come back. Over the past three-four seasons, he probably has been the best spinner in IPL.”

The former captain of Australia also lauded the leadership and flexibility of Rohit Sharma, who has compiled 432 runs at an average of 33.23 despite being shifted all over the batting order.

“Rohit has done a terrific job this year. He’s been under more pressure than anyone else,” Ponting said.

“Being the captain, results not going his way earlier and batting at different positions, he has handled this really well.

“We have had a lot of discussions this season a lot of tactical things and how to handle certain guys and how to handle certain bowlers. He has accepted all this stuff really well.

“His and my relationship is really strong. We are really honest with each other and we appreciate each other’s feedback and not only during the course of a game, but throughout the season.

“Touch wood (bangs the table) he has done a great job so far and hopefully he will be able to do that in the final as well.”

Possible team selections

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Lendl Simmons, Parthiv Patel, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Hardik Pandya, Jagadeesha Suchith, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell McClenaghan, Vinay Kumar, Lasith Malinga

Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (C), Michael Hussey, Dwayne Smith, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Pawan Negi, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, Ashish Nehra

2015 IPL Final betting predictions

Result – Chennai Super Kings ($1.80 at www.Bovada.com)
Highest first six overs – Mumbai Indians ($2.00 at Bet365)
Most match sixes – Chennai Super Kings ($2.50 at Bet365.com)

It’s a super match-up, and Mumbai should be in the box seat with form and a four-day break on their side. But look at the calm heads in the Chennai squad, and the way Hussey and Dhoni plotted together to foil RCB on Friday, and you can’t help thinking they will find a way to snatch that third IPL title. Also, while that turning Kolkata wicket will suit Harbhajan, it might favour CSK’s three-pronged spin attack of Ashwin, Negi and Jadeja even more. We think Super Kings will win, but there’s plenty of value in backing Mumbai to make a strong start with the bat.

T20 value bets for top batsman

Mumbai Indians – Parthiv Pathel ($4.33 at Bet365)

It takes two to make a strong opening partnership, and Parthiv has certainly upheld his end of the bargain since moving to the top of the order. Although not quite as consistent as Simmons when it comes to passing 50, the wicketkeeper always gets a start and is more than capable of going on with it.

Chennai Super Kings – MS Dhoni ($8.00 at www.Bet365.com)

On the big stage, in the pressure situations, there are few players you would rather have at the crease. Although he didn’t last to the death, Dhoni was instrumental in helping orchestrate a tricky little chase with against Bangalore in Ranchi. If Chennai bat second and lose a couple of early wickets, who else would you back to get it done?

Best IPL odds for top bowler

Mumbai Indians – Harbhajan Singh ($4.00 at Bet365)

One of the competition’s most dangerous spinners, on a pitch that always offers something for the slow bowlers – it shouldn’t take a rocket surgeon to work this one out. Harbhajan was superb in the qualifier at the Wankhede, and he looms as Mumbai’s biggest threat on a deck that might take a little bit of the sting out of Malinga and McClenaghan.

Chennai Super Kings – Pawan Negi ($5.00 at Bet365)

CSK will almost certainly field three frontline spin options, but which one should you back? We like young Negi, who has performed superbly since stepping in as an injury replacement for Ashwin. The 22-year-old was the pick of the bowlers on Chennai’s last visit to Eden Gardens, taking 1 for 23 in a big loss to Kolkata Knight Riders.