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Back Mumbai to upset league leaders

Gujarat Titans v Mumbai Indians
Friday May 6th, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Titans tighten their grip

At this advanced stage of the season, brand new franchise the Gujarat Titans look set to make it through to the playoffs at the first time of asking. There’s a lot to like about this team with captain Hardik Pandya setting the example via a string of impressive displays with the bat.

When one of their key overseas picks – Matthew Wade – was struggling, the Titans didn’t make the mistake of hanging around, waiting for him to improve. The experienced Wriddhiman Saha was called up and has since offered a reliable presence with the bat and the gloves.

Like all good T20 sides, Gujarat are nicely balanced in all departments, but several players need to respond after a poor showing against Punjab last time out.

Mumbai leave it too late

Mumbai Indians have traditionally been slow starters but the most successful team in the history of the IPL left it too late this year. Victory over Rajasthan Royals last time out was their first win at the ninth time of asking but it’s done little to lift spirits.

It’s hard to see quite what’s gone wrong. Clearly if they’d retained certain players such as the Pandya brothers the results may have been different but Mumbai have kept much of their historically successful squad.

Maybe, as CSK are finding, the ageing process is catching up with some senior players while it’s never wise to rely on inconsistent players such as Ishan Kishan to deliver every time.

Battle commences at the Brabourne

The Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai takes on hosting duties for Friday’s game. Gujarat Titans have won both of their previous IPL 15 games at this ground while Mumbai are winless from two.

The average first innings score after 11 matches is 174 and that’s a healthy one, especially as it includes a dismal effort of 68 from RCB. Four of those 11 games have gone with the side batting first while the remaining targets have all been chased down.

The toss hasn’t always been vital in this year’s tournament but it will be a case of inserting and looking to restrict the opposition to around the 170 mark.

Considering that the top team are playing the bottom side, the result betting is notably tight. League leaders Gujarat Titans are in front at 1.9620/21 while Wooden Spoon contenders Mumbai Indians are not too far behind at 2.0421/20.

It may be too late for Mumbai but I am expecting a response following that win over Rajasthan on Saturday. I’m dubious about the concept of ‘playing for pride’ but the most successful team in the IPL will be desperate to climb off the bottom.

Although skipper Rohit Sharma’s lack of runs is a concern, things are belatedly falling into place for Mumbai Indians and I’m backing the outsiders this time.

Another batter under pressure to score runs on a consistent basis is Mumbai’s Suryakumar Yadav. The man known as ‘Sky’ delivered last time out with 51 from 39 balls against Rajasthan and that’s the fourth time he’s top scored this season.

He’s the closest to consistency within this Indians squad and he’s my recommended bet at what I believe is a generous 16/5. Other options in Mumbai’s top batter market include Rohit Sharma at 12/5, Ishan Kishan at 3/1, Tilak Varma at 6/1 and Tim David at 15/2.

I’ve gone for Hardik Pandya to be Gujarat’s top batter in their last two games and he’s delivered rare failures. Maybe the pressure of captaincy is starting to have an effect, but Hardik remains the biggest threat to Mumbai.

Hardik to top score for the Titans looks good at 16/5 if you want a third tip while a tempter in the #OddsOnThat section of the sportsbook has 15/2 on the Titans’ skipper to hit a 6, take a wicket and a catch.

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