IPL-3 starts today

Delhi Daredevils have entered the semi-finals of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in both the seasons played so far, but failed to go further. That, say Indian and English bookies, is set to change and Gautam Gambhir’s men are favourites to win Season III, which begins on Friday in Mumbai.

That’s about the only thing the bookies are unanimous on, on the eve of the tournament. With a batting line-up that includes Virender Sehwag, Tillakaratne Dilshan, captain Gambhir, David Warner, AB de Villiers and Paul Collingwood as well as the in-form Dinesh Karthik, you can see why the bookies are impressed.

Add to that a bowling attack that has proven performers like Dirk Nannes, Ashish Nehra, Daniel Vettori and Amit Mishra being buttressed by the entry of South African Wayne Parnell and the balance does look enviable.

English bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill are offering returns of Rs 5 and Rs 4.5 respectively – or earnings of Rs 4 and Rs 3.5 – on every rupee bet on the Daredevils winning the tourney, while Indian bookies are offering Rs 4.1 for every rupee.

The bookmakers, however, can’t quite see eye-to-eye on the rest of the teams, although Kolkata Knight Riders are not surprisingly in the bottom half on all their forecasts. Ladbrokes and William Hill both see Chennai Super Kings – the only team apart from the Daredevils to figure in the semi-finals in both seasons – as a team running Gambhir’s men close.

William Hill is offering Rs 5.5 and Ladbrokes Rs 5 for every rupee bet on Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings. The difference is that Ladbrokes has current champions Deccan Chargers sharing second spot with Chennai.

Indian bookies, however, see Chennai as the team fifth most likely to win IPL-3. In their view, the team most likely to challenge Delhi is the Anil Kumble-led Bangalore Royal Challengers, last year’s runners-up. Ladbrokes has Bangalore in fourth spot and William Hill has them sharing the slot with the Deccan Chargers.

Indian bookies and William Hill are tipping Mumbai Indians to make it to the semis. But the inclusion of Kieron Pollard in a team that already has the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya appears to have left Ladbrokes unimpressed – they have the Mumbai Indians in joint fifth with three other teams, which effectively means also they are the joint last.

Rajasthan Royals, the fairytale team of the first season, are last on every list this time round. Indian bookies are willing to give you Rs 12 for every rupee bet on them, Ladbrokes Rs 8 and William Hill Rs 10. The consolation for Shane Warne’s men is that on the Ladbrokes list, there are three other teams with the same odds.

The spread of the odds also suggests that Ladbrokes sees the tournament as a much closer contest than either Indian bookies or William Hill.(TNN)

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