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IPL Qualifying final best bets for Super Kings vs. Indians

IPLQualifier 1 – 8:00pm local time on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Chennai Super Kings – $1.71 at Bovada.com
Mumbai Indians – $2.20 at www.Bet365.com

The 2015 Indian Premier League playoffs will commence with a belter on Tuesday night as the top two sides fight for a final berth in what should be an exhilarating contest at the Wankhede.

Chennai Super Kings are the $1.71 favourites at online bookmaker Bodog.com, having coasted to a first-placed finish despite losing three of their last seven league games.

And when you look at the squad Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming has to work with, it’s not hard to see why the bookies are backing Twenty20 cricket’s undisputed glamour club.

Led by the incomparable Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the CSK lineup boasts star talent in every discipline. Dwayne Bravo has arguably been the player of the tournament so far, with 20 wickets and 166 runs, while Ashish Nehra’s 18 victims puts the 36-year-old paceman among the deadliest fast bowlers this season.

Brendon McCullum tops the CSK scoring charts with 428 runs at a strike rate of 155.7, leading Dhoni (328 runs), Dwayne Smith (325), Suresh Raina (321) and Faf du Plessis (313) in what is the most complete batting order in the competition.

But the Super Kings will have to make do without their star opener for the finals series, as McCullum has joined the New Zealand squad for the upcoming Test series against England.

That means Michael Hussey, who has featured just once this season, will almost certainly slide in at the head of the Chennai batting order in Mumbai.

The Australian veteran faced four balls and scored a solitary single when he relieved Smith in the recent win at Mohali, so there are one or two concerns over whether he has the match fitness to cope with an in-form Mumbai Indians pace attack.

Lasith Malinga and Mitchell McClenaghan were instrumental in getting MI to the playoffs, taking shared figures of 5/33 from eight overs in a huge last-ditch win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday.

That nine-wicket triumph in Uppal launched Mumbai into second spot and capped off a stunning turnaround for a team that seemed destined for the wooden spoon just four weeks ago.

The Indians looked done and dusted after losing their first four games in IPL 2015, but eight wins from their last 10 outings sees them charge into the knockout rounds as the most dangerous side in the tourney.

That incredible streak includes a six-wicket victory at the Chepauk earlier this month – Chennai’s one and only home defeat this season.

And to think it might never have happened this way had Aaron Finch and Corey Anderson – two of the most valuable players in Ricky Ponting’s squad – not suffered season-ending injuries in the first weeks of the campaign.

But Finch’s hamstring tear made room for Lendl Simmons, whose opening partnership with wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel has set the tone for Mumbai’s revival, while Kieron Pollard has stepped up as the star all-rounder in Anderson’s absence.

And one Kiwi’s loss has proven to be another’s gain, as that extra space in the overseas player allowance has given McClenaghan the opportunity to forge a venomous strike pairing with the ever-reliable Malinga.

Mumbai also have a wild card with the recent addition of Alex Hales, who was picked up as an injury replacement on the back of his superb domestic form in England – namely an 86 not out in the NatWest T20 Blast which featured six consecutive sixes.

Still, the leading online sports books reckon Mumbai – paying $2.20 best odds at Bet365 – will have to go through either Royal Challengers Bangalore or Rajasthan Royals in the preliminary match if they are to claim their second IPL trophy in three years.

According to Rohit Sharma, the Indians will use that safety net as an opportunity shake the leash and play their most aggressive cricket of the tournament so far.

“Finishing in the top two obviously gives us a chance to play fearlessly,” the Mumbai captain said on the official IPL website.

“I feel we have played good games till now but the playoffs will be a different ball game. You can’t afford to make too many mistakes but knowing you have a second chance it gives us the license to play fearless cricket.”

Sharma added that Mumbai’s superior form could prove decisive, especially with a home ground advantage to lean on.

“Momentum plays a huge role in this format and it is very important to carry that winning habit into the next game every time you play,” he said.

“We do enter the playoffs with a lot of confidence and we know it won’t be easy, as has been the case with Mumbai Indians throughout the league stages. We are prepared for it and we will perform to our best.

“It is just a matter of being in the present and not thinking about what we have done in the league stages. We can take positives from it. We know the conditions there and I am sure we can put up a great show.”

Possible team lineups

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

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

Match predictions

Result – Mumbai Indians to win ($2.20 at Bovada)
Highest first six overs – Mumbai Indians ($2.02 at www.Crownbet.com)
Most matches sixes – Mumbai Indians ($1.90 at Bet365)

It’s impossible to ignore Mumbai’s form over the last fortnight. Combine that with Chennai’s reputation for stumbling at the business end, and $2.20 odds for the Indians to win look like pretty good value. Furthermore, McCullum’s absence and Hussey’s lack of match practice could give the home side a big leg-up in the match batting markets.

IPL value bets for top batsman

Chennai Super Kings – MS Dhoni ($7.50 at Bet365.com)

Dhoni has performed well without really needing to deploy his singular match-winning abilities so far this season. The loss of McCullum could unsettle the Chennai top order, in which case they will most definitely look to their skipper to steady the ship.

Mumbai Indians – Kieron Pollard ($7.60 at CrownBet)

The West Indian all-rounder has rediscovered some of his best touch in 2015, contributing crucial cameos with both bat and ball. Yes, he’ll line up at five or six, but 342 runs at a strike rate of 154.75 shows that Pollard doesn’t need much time do a hell of a lot of damage.

Best T20 odds for top bowler

Chennai Super Kings – Ishwar Pandey ($6.00 at www.Bodog.com)

While Bravo and Nehra may be the obvious options, Chennai’s tall medium pacer is well worth a look. Pandey has contributed regular wickets while seldom conceding big runs, which makes him an excellent backstop should the big names fail to fire.

Mumbai Indians – Harbhajan Singh ($4.50 at Bovada.com)

MI’s veteran spinner has bounced back from his mid-season dry spell with six wickets in as many games, including best figures of 2/11 against Delhi Daredevils earlier this month. He offers a fairly juicy alternative to Malinga and McClenaghan, both of whom are paying under $4 odds at most IPL betting sites.

More Indian Premier League playoff matches

Eliminator – Wednesday, May 20
Royal Challengers Bangalore – $1.58 at Crownbet.com
Rajasthan Royals – $2.50 at Bodog

Qualifier 2 – Friday, May 22

Final – Sunday, May 24

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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