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IPL 2023 outright preview and best bets

Read Richard Mann’s outright betting preview for this year’s Indian Premier League, which features strong fancies at 7/1 and 11/4.

Cricket tips: IPL 2023

2pts e.w. Rajasthan Royals to win the Indian Premier League at 7/1 (General)

2pts Gujarat Titans top 2 league table finish at 11/4 (Sky Bet)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

RAJASTHAN ROYALS can atone for defeat in last year’s final by going one better and winning IPL 2023, a title success that would be their first since the late Shane Warne led this very franchise to glory in the inaugural running of the competition way back in 2008.

The Royals didn’t do a lot wrong last year. Jos Buttler was named Player of the Tournament thanks to a final tally of 863 tournament runs, including four centuries, and he was ably supported by a strong batting line-up which will once again feature Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer. That pair added 458 and 314 runs to the cause last year and their respective strike-rates were a very healthy 146.79 and 153.92. Buttler struck at 149.05.

Those key components remain for 2023 and there’s some power down the order, too. Jason Holder should prove a smart buy who can offer a calm head in the middle order, as well as a savvy seam bowling option together with his general appetite for the battle.

Royals bowling has all bases covered

It’s the frontline bowling that impresses me most, however. A season-ending injury to Prasidh Krishna ought to have proven a headache, but wily new-ball operator Sandeep Sharma is an able replacement and his possible presence in the starting XI might mean Trent Boult doesn’t need to burn too many overs up front.

Obed McCoy impressed greatly at the death last season and should be fully fit in a few weeks, possibly presenting a selection dilemma for head coach Kumar Sangakkara who has always struck me as a good thinker, one who has clearly got this franchise back on track after a run of modest campaigns.

With spin covered through Yuvi Chahal – he took 27 wickets last term, beating Boult who finished with 16, and McCoy 11 from only seven matches – and Ravi Ashwin, all bases appear covered. So much so that Adam Zampa, a world-class spinner himself, could struggle to find his way into the starting XI.

If we’re being picky, one could argue that Krishna’s unavailability leaves Rajasthan short of another proven frontline Indian quick, but Kuldeep Sen has earned international honours in the last year and I’m expecting him to take another step forward this season.

There aren’t too many weaknesses in this squad and what I really like is that the core of the group that went so far 12 months ago remains. The Royals should only get better from here and in an apparently wide-open year, they will be carrying my money at 7/1.

I say that this is a wide-open year because bookmakers can barely split the 10 teams, particularly the top four in the betting who are all currently priced around the 6/1 mark.

Team of Titans set for bold title defence

Defending champions Gujarat Titans, who beat the Royals in last year’s final, are currently edging favouritism at 11/2 and just as is the case with the Royals, I reckon the Titans should be a good deal shorter.

These were the best two teams last season – as the final table indicated – and nothing I saw at the auction has changed my opinion. There are a number of potential improvers further down the betting, plus sleeping giants such as Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, but I have the Royals and Titans a level above many of their rivals and I expect the table to show just that in a few weeks.

The Titans were brilliant all throughout last term, topping the table and then dominating the final. For a first-season franchise, it was a remarkable achievement, one built around a proper team rather than a few big-name individuals that tend to dominate the headlines but rarely put it together for long enough to win a big franchise competitions like this one.

Think Andre Russell at Kolkata Knight Riders, and Virat Kohli at Royal Challengers Bangalore. These have been outstanding individual players, but the money spent to retain big names like that means their franchises always lose out elsewhere.

The Titans were quite simply a proper team. Hardik Pandya and Rashid Khan were their headline acts on paper, but from Shubman Gill to Mohammed Shami, David Miller to Wriddhiman Saha, the Titans had players who stepped up at different times. The fact Saha was promoted to open the batting and managed 317 runs in the season is testament to that.

This was a collective effort throughout and in recruiting Kane Williamson, Josh Little and Shivam Mavi at the latest auction – hardly blockbuster T20 signings – the Titans have reaffirmed their intent to continue shaping a squad made up of genuine team players.

They might even be even stronger this year, and while I still think the Royals have a bit more X-Factor in their ranks if they can take the anticipated step forward, I can’t believe the Titans won’t again finish the regular season close to top of the table.

As such, the 11/4 available with Sky Bet for the Titans to finish in the Top 2 in the league table is too good to pass up, while I may update this preview later in the week should a Name The Finalists market be generously priced up. No prizes for guessing which way I’ll be going there.

I gave my verdict on each of the ten teams in my IPL 2023 team-by-team guide here, but I must mention CSK who are four-time IPL winners, the last of those triumphs coming as recently as 2021.

CSK and Mumbai Indians bank on IPL pedigree

Last season was a disaster, but MS Dhoni is back in charge now and although there are plenty of drawbacks to their squad, they have real IPL pedigree and know how to get the job done if getting on a roll.

The bowling might not look that sexy, but they have genuine spin depth and variety, and head coach Stephen Fleming has made no secret of the fact that he hopes spin will be how his side wins matches at home. That would be the old CSK way, and we know it works.

As for the batting, much will depend on the top order. Ruturaj Gaikwad needs to recapture the form that saw him finish as the tournament’s leading runscorer in 2021, but he is a class act who will score runs. He is again expected to team up with Devon Conway and this has the makings of a brilliant opening partnership.

I wouldn’t write CSK off, nor Sunrisers Hyderabad who were dreadful last year but have had a huge clear out and appear to have recruited well. Aiden Markram’s captaincy was seen to good effect at the recent SA20, while Harry Brook’s talents need no introduction.

Keeping their classy and experienced Indian seamers fit will be vital, as will getting off to a good start. This is a new team with new players and things could unravel very quickly if they don’t begin well, but there is real potential here and I’m looking forward to watching the Sunrisers in the coming weeks.

Lucknow Super Giants finished third in the table last term and are very solid once again.

My main concern surrounds the amount of money they forked out for the services of Nicholas Pooran at the auction. He will have to get a good run in the side now and though I’ve always viewed him as huge talent, his record is very patchy – particularly in this competition.

In fact, keeping all their overseas stars happy might be an issue this year. Mark Wood is fit again and another sure to demand a regular starting berth, so fitting all the pieces of the jigsaw together might not be easy for the team management.

Nevertheless, the Super Giants must be considered contenders, while I wouldn’t discount five-time winners Mumbai who have Jofra Archer fit again. The Englishman will carry a huge burden with the ball now that Jasprit Bumrah has been ruled out for the entirety of the season, but Mumbai’s batting is brimming with talent and power, and has great potential.

Like CSK, Mumbai have IPL pedigree and know how to get the job done in the knockout stages.

But so do the Titans, the standout team in 2022, and the Royals who don’t have much ground to make up and look to be building a high-class, well-rounded team that is made to last.

This year could well be their year.

Preview posted at 2120 BST on 27/03/2023

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