2020 IPL preview: Best bets for outright markets
We assess the best picks for the 2020 IPL, including champion, top four, top run-scorer and top wicket-taker.
To win the IPL: Sunrisers Hyderabad
The Sunrisers have been a model of consistency in the last few years, finishing in the top four in each of the last four editions of the IPL.
That run began with David Warner leading his side to the title in 2016, and he can repeat the trick again with what looks like a formidable line-up behind him.
Warner tops an explosive batting line-up, featuring overseas stars Jonny Bairstow and Kane Williamson, with Manish Pandey, Mohammad Nabi and Wriddhiman Saha bound to contribute with the bat, too.
Hyderabad have also had two bowlers feature in the top 10 wicket-takers in each of the last four years, with gun leg-spinner Rashid Khan and seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar particularly effective, and Khaleel Ahmed an exciting prospect.
The 2016 champions are coached by Trevor Bayliss, who won the title with the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 and 2014, and also won the most recent international World Cup with England.
To finish in the top four: Rajasthan Royals
This tip is largely based on price, with Rajasthan the clear outsiders to finish in the top four.
While there are some doubts about the immediate availability and sharpness of key players like Steve Smith and Ben Stokes, it is a surprise that a side with such ability are such good value to finish in the top half of the table.
The Royals have finished inside the top four in three of the last five seasons, and have added some decent talent to a squad that already featured Smith, Stokes, Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson and Jofra Archer.
Rahul Tewatia – highly-rated by cricket analyst Dan Weston – can go well with the ball, while new seam bowler Andrew Tye was the IPL’s leading wicket-taker in 2018.
In a game of fine margins, a squad this promising can defy their status as underdogs.
To finish bottom: Kings XI Punjab
Unlike Rajasthan, Kings XI Punjab haven’t enjoyed much success in this competition.
K.L. Rahul’s side have finished in the bottom half of the table in 10 of their 12 campaigns, ending up rock bottom in three of them.
Their last five campaigns have been particularly miserable, finishing eighth, eighth, fifth, seventh and sixth.
Glenn Maxwell may add some firepower in the middle order, but the bowling attack lacks the class to keep the opposition quiet.
To be the top run-scorer: David Warner and Shubman Gill
Warner has such a phenomenal IPL record that it’s impossible to make anywhere near as strong a case for anybody else.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper has come out on top in this market in three of his last four IPLs (2015, 2017 and 2019), and came second to Virat Kohli’s staggering tally of 973 runs in 2016.
Having been banned from the 2018 edition, he formed an exciting opening partnership with Jonny Bairstow last year.
The chemistry between those two, and Manish Pandey and Kane Williamson below them, can ensure that Warner goes close again.
Betway ambassador Kevin Pietersen also likes the look of young Indian batsman Shubman Gill. That’s good enough for us.
To be the top wicket-taker: Kagiso Rabada and Khaleel Ahmed
Imran Tahir topped this market last year, but that was the first time that a spinner has scooped the prize since 2010, so we’re looking for a seamer here.
Availability is a key factor, too. No bowler has taken the most IPL wickets without playing at least 14 matches since 2008, so the winner needs to be an undroppable member of his team.
Nine of the last 11 winners in this market had also finished in the top 20 of the wicket-taking rankings the year before, which whittles down our options to just a few.
An interesting quirk is that six of the last 10 winners have been overseas players, so South African quick bowler Kagiso Rabada – who finished second to compatriot Tahir with 25 wickets last year – looks a good fit for the Delhi Capitals.
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Khaleel Ahmed, who finished sixth with 19 wickets in nine matches in 2019, can also go close if he plays most games.
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