Chennai Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab 11.30am, ITV4
A MIXED start to the tournament for CSK included a deserved defeat at the hands of lowly Pune and in a tournament where some of the top teams have struggled it looked as if the IPL's most successful franchise might be heading for a repeat of 2012 at best – a year when they scraped into the play-offs by virtue of a high net run rate.
However, after taking four points from a possible eight in those early games, the Super Kings have won six straight matches and qualification to the knockouts is virtually guaranteed. Those victories have been anchored by Mike Hussey, who is somehow staying in touch with Chris Gayle in the race for the orange cap, but everyone is hitting form at the right time.
With Ravi Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo and Dhoni himself hitting a peak, this could be a long, hot and uncomfortable day for CSK's opponents.
With four wins from their opening nine matches, Kings XI remain in touch with the top four and Adam Gilchrist's side were unlucky not to claim another two points after taking Mumbai to a last ball finish earlier this week.
Gilchrist took the difficult yet logical decision to drop himself from the team in favour of Shaun Marsh and although his replacement made just 10, Kings look a stronger side and one which has an outside chance of a play-off slot.
That match with Mumbai was lost when stand-in skipper David Hussey took the ball and promptly went for 27 off the last over so he will need to be far shrewder in the face of a stronger side.
Having tinkered with their team for much of this tournament, Kings look to have their best balanced starting XI and with Marsh, Hussey and David Miller forming a potent batting line up, they will start winning games again – albeit they should surrender the points here to a seemingly unstoppable CSK.
Back Chennai @ 1.57
Pune Warriros v Royal Challengers Bangalore 3.30, ITV4
PUNE WARRIORS should be renamed the weaklings. They are bottom of the pile and with qualification hopes a fantasy we don't expect them to improve any time soon.
They have lost five zip and there appears to be an alarming lack of planning or spirit in the camp. It is not surprising. Angelo Mathews has seemingly been ditched as skipper in favour of Australian Aaron Finch, who has hardly proved an academic of Antipodeans so far.
It might be a decent idea to return Mathews to the line-up in place of the hapless Luke Wright who has already snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against King's XI. In a hammering by Chennai, Wright was run out for two off six balls and his only over went for 12 runs.
Bangalore have never won IPL which seems extraordinary when you consider they have boasted the batting brutality of Chris Gayle for much of their existence.
Yet sitting pretty in second spot, one gets the feeling this could be their year. What is to like about RCB is their willingness to eschew star talent, chiefly Tillakaratne Dilshan who has been unable to break into the side regularly.
Gayle opened with Abhinav Mukund last time, albeit in defeat by Rajasthan Royals. Virat Kohli, the enfant terrible of Indian cricket, makes some headstrong decisions at times but is good value. He may need to start bashing his bowlers' heads together, though. They lack penetration and might be wise to recall Zaheer Khan or Daniel Vettori.
Back Bangalore @ 1.65
BET OF THE DAY – DOUBLE
Chennai @ 1.57
Bangalore @ 1.65