It was a significant week for World Cup wagering, not that you would have probably noticed under that mountain of mince pies, wrapping and those tiny (and vicious) shed needles from the tree.
Saeed Ajmal's withdrawal from Pakistan's squad was a sharp shock indeed and could end their already slim hopes of claiming the title. Pakistan were already up against it thanks to an awful win percentage of just 35 in Australia since 2000.
But the loss of their one genuine x-factor player will surely hurt.In the last two years only Ravi Jadeja (77) has taken more wickets than Ajmal's 74. In that time Pakistan have won 48% of matches with Ajmal. Without him, it's just 36 per cent including the 3-2 loss to New Zealand in the UAE in December.
Ajmal, 37, has been banned from bowling his off-spinners by the ICC because of a suspect action. He could have taken a test to be cleared in time to play Down Under but had he failed, he could have been banned for a further two years which would have probably ended his career.
Ajmal's loss is other teams' gain with Pakistan a significantly weaker outfit without him and that impacts on the outright prices. Pakistan had been 13.5 for some time and they have only been tweaked to 14.013/1 in the wake of the Ajmal shock.
Probably the greatest beneficiaries are Australia, the favourites. They remain at 3.814/5 and it could be argued they should have shortened considering they are on a collision course with Pakistan in the quarter-final.
By using the odds as our guide, it is fair to reckon that Australia will top Pool A and therefore meet Pakistan in the last 16 if they finish fourth in Pool B. New Zealand, of course, could well go off like a rocket in the group and top the section in which case there is still plenty of room for manoeuvre in their price of 7.413/2.
Their odds have collapsed in recent weeks - they were as big as 9.417/2 - possibly because punters have wised up to the fact that a first or second-place finish in their pool should be a formality given they need only outperform England and a Sri Lanka team with a poor record in Oceania.
Were New Zealand to face either Pakistan or West Indies in a quarter-final they would be favourites and by the time of the last four their price will have been chopped in half and then a bit more off the top.
It should not be ruled out that an associate team could gatecrash the party and if the Aussies and the Kiwis allowed themselves a smug smile at Ajmal's announcement, the Irish should have been jumping for joy.
Sunday March 15 is a date for the diary as that is the day Ireland meet Pakistan in Adelaide in their final group match. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that a win for either side could ensure safe passage to the knockout.
Ireland are a competitive outfit and are the most reliable of the associate sides. The majority of cricket punters would admit here and now that they will be taking on Pakistan in that game.
They have a history of poor performances against lesser sides, notably versus Bangladesh in the 1999 World Cup and then again eight years later in the Caribbean when Ireland beat them.
To that end, there is a possibility of a very cheeky trade on the Ireland price on the outright. Currently they are 1000.0 for small money but those who are quick off the mark could make an easy bundle for no risk.
A tale of two captains
Steven Smith could be forgiven for feeling grateful to MS Dhoni for grabbing the spotlight in the wake of the third Test stalemate at the MCG.
Dhoni's decision to retire from Tests rather took the glare away from Smith, who was guilty of some insipid, safety-first captaincy which cost his side victory and a 3-0 lead.
Sure, it didn't matter because Smith was ensuring that Australia won the series. But there was something depressing about this young thruster being so negative. India were set an irrelevant 384 to win in just 70 overs.
Does Smith not know the history of the game? Surely he is not so blunt that he was not aware the chances of defeat were miniscule? In only his second Test as leader, it is harsh not to give him the benefit of the doubt.
It was rather ironic, though, that Dhoni rode to his rescue. From one dimwit to another? Dhoni has been lauded after announcing his retirement but he has, in truth, been a very, very ordinary captain.
At home, of course, India were good under his stewardship. They won 27 Tests which saw him rank higher than any previous captain. But so what? India are supposed to win at home on their dusty turners, it's on the road where they should be judged.
And Dhoni was found wanting. His leadership was non-existent on occasions and he lacked the spark, smarts or spunk to make India even competitive in more challenging conditions.
India won only six Tests from 30 away from home under Dhoni and they lost 15, 13 of those coming in 18 Tests since the 2011 World Cup triumph. His predecessors did as worse but none had the resources or sheer financial might as Dhoni's India.
Indeed, the timing of his resignation was hardly surprising. It was entirely in keeping with a man who turned up late for this Test series and feigned interest in England in the summer that he should bail with one Test to play.
He may also have been aware that he was one more defeat from matching Stephen Fleming and Brian Lara as being one of the worst skippers ever away from home.
Cape of no hope for Windies
South Africa meet West Indies on Friday at fortress Newlands providing punters with one of the most reliable ground formguides in the world game.
The Proteas only lose to Australia, and the great Aussie sides at that, at Cape Town and they enjoy a remarkable record when the four reverses against their old foes are discounted.
Since 1993 South Africa have played 23 Tests, winning 18 of them. Okay, South Africa are as skinny as 1.42/5 but the numbers are weightier than those odds. Of perhaps more use is the fact they have posted 400 or more in 12 of their first-innings during that study period.
After rain ruined the second Test, the good news is that the sun has got his hat on and it will be fiercely hot under the shadow of table Mountain.