Ed Hawkins crunches the numbers to find out whether the great man is worth following in Sydney in the early hours of Friday...
"Dhawan is hit and miss, for sure, but his form looked good in the IPL and he should relish the pacy nature of the SCG surface."
Dhawan a better bet
Australia's first ODI against India in Sydney is for the insomniacs and the bleary-eyed. But try to make it because it doubles as a betting masterclass.
Our focus should be on Virat Kohli, the India great. You don't need us to tell you that the man is a batting God, capable of feats with the willow that few can aspire to.
And, of course, because of this remarkable talent the punting mind will always want to be with him. Despite Sportsbook rating him as hot favourite for top India runscorer at a skinny 15/8, there will be a rush to bet on him.
Our job is to work out whether that price is fair. It is one thing reckoning that Kohli will score well (and on a flat, batting friendly wicket, to boot, as discussed in our match preview) but it is another to take advantage of a wrong price.
Regardless of what a punter thinks will happen, hopes will happen or wishes to happen, one should only wager if the price is wrong. Those who consistently make rational bets on wrong prices will, in the long run, end up in profit.
So Kohli in this case is a test. We think he will score runs. We feel he should score runs. The big reason for feeling like that is Kohli is well overdue a win on this market. In 17 ODI and T20 appearances for India he has no winner. It is an extraordinarily barren run for one of the most reliable bets on top-bat markets.
The second is that India are without Rohit Sharma. Not only is Sharma the best ODI batsman in the world but he is also in the top five of consistent winners - and at prices out of line with his win rate. It would seem all is set up for Kohli to notch. And he may well do. So do we back him at 15/8?
Sadly, the answer is no. That price has actually been cut from 21/10 earlier in the week. Sportsbook reckon that he has a 34.8% chance. On career form Kohli wins 26% of the time. On two-year form that creeps up to 27%. It is impossible to justify betting him when the gap between those numbers and is price is so big.
But what about Rohit being absent, surely he wins more in line with the Sportsbook number when he has more responsibility? Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you? In the last four years Rohit has missed 11 ODI Kohli has played
in. The great man topped in only two of them.
The man to follow is Shikhar Dhawan. He is rated at 7/2, which gives us a 3.2% edge in our favour. Dhawan is hit and miss, for sure, but his form looked good in the IPL and he should relish the pacy nature of the SCG surface. Another way to get with Dhawan is going over 33.5 performance points (1pt per run, 10 per catch) with Sportsbook at 5/6. He has a career average make-up of 47, 39 in the last two years and 46.5 against Australia in the last two years.
India top bat wins/matches
India top bowler wins/matches
Bumrah 8 9t/51
Kuldeep 13 13t/58
Chahal 9 4t/47
Shami 6 2t/26
Hazlewood and Warner catch the eye
Two Aussie-related bets which fit the value bill are Josh Hazlewood to be top wicket-taker for the hosts and David Warner to be the highest runscorer in the match., or to score a century.
The Australia bowling unit is strong and it is a highly competitive market, but Hazlewood's nagging line and length style is perfect for taking on India's strokeplayers. If he attacks them with back-of-the-length bullets on the top of off he could be in business. At 7/2, as per the figures below, he is the only Aussie who is wrongly priced.
Warner has a brilliant record at the SCG, scoring five fifties and three tons in 14 innings. More importantly, the 5/1 that Sportsbook offer about him being overall top bat is out by a whole point on his career win rate in the market. For the record, Kohli is 4/1 and that is absolutely bang on the price he should be. Warner is also 5/1 for a century. This is also a point out of line in our favour on two-year form.
Australia top bat wins/matches
Finch 10 t/48
M Marsh 0/11
Australia top bowler wins/matches
Hazlewood 4 2t/17
Starc 5 4t/27
Cummins 6 4t/37 3/1
Zampa 6 6t/35
Australia v India preview on Cricket...Only Bettor