The Champions League Twenty20 field is set in stone after the Sunrisers Hyderabad and the Otago Volts earned the last two spots in the event and one of them is the best bet.
That team is the Sunrisers Hyderabad, one of four Indian teams in the tournament. Cricket in India is different to anywhere else on the planet, with the dry, dusty conditions being extremely challenging for batsmen who are not used to facing over after over of high-quality spin bowling. Anyone looking to strike a Champions League Twenty20 winner bet should, for obvious reasons, focus on the Indian sides.
The Chennai Super Kings are the Champions League Twenty20 favourites at generally available odds of 3.75 as they are the most successful team in Indian Premier League history and they won the Champions League Twenty20 in 2010. The Chennai Super Kings have the boost of Dwayne Bravo electing to play for them in preference to Trinidad and Tobago and their key batsman in the last Indian Premier League, Mike Hussey, is an Australian who is not tired following the recent Ashes series. Hussey retired from international cricket at the beginning of 2013 so he should be fresh.
The only problem with backing the Chennai Super Kings is their odds. Twenty20 cricket is not the lottery that some punters think but none of the 10 sides is hopeless and the eventual Champions League Twenty20 winner will have to take out two sudden-death matches at the business end. Surely the sensible plan of attack is to bet away from the favourite.
The Mumbai Indians are the Champions League Twenty20 second favourites at odds of 5.00 with several bookmakers. Lasith Malinga is a major absentee for the Mumbai Indians as he is the finest Twenty20 bowler in the world, even if he had an ordinary Indian Premier League season by his standards. The absence of Malinga is enough to oppose the Mumbai Indians.
The Rajasthan Royals were on the fourth line of Champions League Twenty20 betting until the Sunrisers Hyderabad made it through the qualifiers with a game to spare. Australia star Shane Watson is key to the Rajasthan Royals but, while the all-rounder found form towards the end of his country’s tour of England, he must be exhausted after playing a few months of high-pressure Test and limited-overs cricket.
It is the Sunrisers Hyderabad that appeal the most of the four Indian teams, with Betfred quoting them at odds of 7.00. The Sunrisers Hyderabad have one of the best squads, including India’s rising star with the bat, Shikhar Dhawan, and South Africa’s dot-ball specialist, Dale Steyn. And playing three qualifying matches is something that will put the Sunrisers Hyderabad at an advantage over all bar one of their rivals.
Away from home, the other six Champions League Twenty20 sides do not look like betting propositions. Perhaps the biggest lay of the half-dozen teams are the Perth Scorchers since they will encounter completely different conditions in India to those on which they excelled during the Big Bash League. Perth is home to the fastest pitch in international cricket and the Scorchers flopped in South Africa last year.
The absence of Chris Gayle – none of the swashbuckling West Indies opener’s sides qualified for the Champions League Twenty20 – means that bookmakers are betting odds of 8.00 the field on the tournament’s top run scorer. If one fancies the Sunrisers Hyderabad to go very well then one should be very keen on Dhawan at odds of 9.00 with Paddy Power.
Before the Sunrisers Hyderabad played their Champions League Twenty20 dead rubber against the Otago Volts, Dhawan’s last 10 innings were 116, 35, 41, 15, 85, 248, 62, 11, 71 and 59. Dhawan made all those scores in limited-overs games, with his 248 occurring off 150 balls in India A’s 39-run defeat of South Africa in Pretoria last month. The wicket was flat – three other batsmen celebrated centuries – but Dhawan’s knock was majestic featuring 30 fours and seven sixes.