Smith tips Royals and Indians to shine

Former South Africa cricket captain Graeme Smith has backed Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals to make a big impact in the 2024 Indian Premier League (IPL).

The Indians are chasing a record sixth IPL title this season, while the Royals are bidding to lift the prestigious trophy for the first time since 2008.

Both teams are prominent in the outright betting to win the IPL and will be keen to make their mark in what promises to be a fascinating competition.

Smith, who is the commissioner of South Africa’s version of the IPL, believes the Indians and Royals have assembled well-balanced squads for the 2024 campaign.

“They have really strong Indian roots and international players that can make a big impact, so they should have big expectations of pushing as deep as they possibly can,” he told Betway.

“From a Mumbai perspective, it’s going to be interesting to see how the transition of leadership is managed with Hardik Pandya replacing Rohit Sharma as captain.

“They struggled with their seam bowling last year, but getting Jasprit Bumrah back is huge and he’s my pick to be top wicket taker.”

The two sides had mixed fortunes in their respective season openers, with the Indians slipping to a narrow defeat against Gujarat Titans and the Royals beating Lucknow Super Giants.

The Royals have not had much to cheer about since winning the inaugural title in 2008, with a second-place finish in 2022 the nearest they have come to adding to their tally.

They failed to break into the top four last season, but should be competitive this time around given the batting talent they have at their disposal.

The Royals’ line-up includes Sanju Samson, who notched 82 runs in 52 balls as the Royals reached 193/4 in their 20 overs against the Super Kings.

Samson’s impressive knock, which included three boundaries and six sixes, sparked speculation that he could force his way into India’s T20 World Cup squad.

While he looks guaranteed to play an important role for the Royals this term, their title hopes will likely rest on the shoulders of two other proven T20 performers – Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal.

Buttler is a fearsome batsman who can dominate any bowling attack, while Jaiswal holds the record for scoring the fastest half-century in the IPL.

Both players are towards the head of the market to be the highest scoring batsman this season and Smith believes they can mount a strong challenge to claim top spot.

“Buttler and Jaiswal are just an insane pair at the top of the order and are both good bets for the orange cap in the top run scorer market,” Smith added.

“You’ve then got Trent Boult with the new ball, and a great spin department with Ravi Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal – who I think could run Bumrah close for the purple cap.

“They’ve got options right throughout and I think they’re well-catered for all conditions.”

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