Ed Hawkins checks the runners and riders in the tops market for value in the second Test from Adelaide early on Friday
"Smith managed only four in game one. It was only the third time in his past 11 first-innings that he had failed to post a fifty"
During Australia's victory over Pakistan in the first Test at The Gabba Steve Smith did not take the team coach back to the hotel. He ran. More than 3km. To punish himself for not scoring runs.
Now that's the sort of dedication to duty that gets punters' heart rate ticking. It adds to the feeling that Smith is all the more likely to go big in the second Test in Adelaide.
In our match preview, we have already pointed out the value for him to notch a fifty. But what of his price for top Australia runscorer in the first innings?
Before The Gabba, we had Smith down as a 6/4 chance on two-year form. Sportsbook agreed. But for the pink ball Test under lights he has been eased to 7/4. It is the sort of overreaction that we should take advantage of.
Smith managed only four in game one. It was only the third time in his past 11 first-innings that he had failed to post a 50. Either this is the beginning of Smith returning to the mean, or it is the calm before the storm. He is also on the value zone to score a century at 2/1.
In four Tests at the Adelaide Oval, Josh Hazlewood has an impressive strike rate of a wicket every 44.5 balls. It is his favourite home venue if we discount the two matches at the Bellerive Oval, Hobart.
Sportsbook's player performance quote (20pts per wkt, ten per catch, 1 per run) catches the eye therefore. It looks cheap for buyers at 110.5 when you consider, in Adelaide, he is averaging 117 points per game. In all home Tests his average is 94, however. And over his career he is coming in at 89 points per game.
Hazlewood, a topic in Cricket...Only Bettor (above) is the second highest wicket-taker in day-night Tests. No 1 is Mitchell Starc with 26 in five and a strike rate of 40. Interestingly, the top four wicket-takers will all be on show with Yasir Shah and Nathan Lyon at Nos 3 and 4 respectively.
Pat Cummins is further down the list but the key metric is always strike rate. And with a wicket every 30 balls he could be the most dangerous. Cummins is incredibly consistent in the wickets column but he is beginning to frustrate for top Aussie bowler. He needs a winner. His win rate is beginning to be chipped away even though, at a solitary glance for this Test it seems a mistake not to bet him at 5/2. He is more like a 7/4 shot.
AA to the rescue
We swerved a wager on Azhar Ali for game one because we worried being exposed to Australia terrific pace attack with the new ball would make life tough. He did okay in the first dig but was a cheap wicket in the second, overall returning 44.
Azhar was something of a perfect storm. The opening berth and the pressure of captaincy were always likely to take their toll and render a terrific record in Australia not as relevant as it should be. It's now 405 runs in four matches.
The good news is that Azhar is expected to move down a slot to No 3 with Imam-ul-Haq coming into the side at the expense of Haris Sohail. In an ideal world Haris might survive, Iftikhar Ahmed would lose his place and Pakistan could get the most out of their skip at No 4. But that's wishful thinking.
On our data we have Azhar the 5/2 favourite so Sportsbook's 7/2 is tempting. Babar Azam, as classy as he is, is no 2/1 shot. He didn't cop in Brisbane and his win rate is 19%. A word, too, for Mohammad Rizwan. The guy is going to be great for Pakistan and we're be tempted by the 7/1 but he's played only two Tests.
2019 - points p-l: +37.42 (124 points staked)
2018 - points p-l: +9.86 (89 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)