Ed Hawkins looks at the stats to show where the value lies for the Third Test between Australia and India at the SCG on Wednesday night - and finds two home players to follow.
"On his home ground, he should feel comfortable. He has the best strike rate among his team-mates for first-innings action at the venue."
Warner keeps Smith honest
David Warner could hobble to the rescue for Australia in the third Test at the SCG. His return when not quite at 100 per cent following a groin injury is fitting for a home batting line-up which is also suffering a malady - low confidence.
Does a not-quite-fit Warner make the difference? It is hard to tell. The opener could be pumped up on adrenaline (or painkillers) to get him through the first-innings and set up Australia for victory. Great call. Or he could get a good one from Jasprit Bumrah early on, having not hit a ball in anger for more than seven weeks. Not so great.
That confusion assists us without wagering, however. Sportsbook go 11/4 that he top scores in the first dig. We are able to give it a big swerve because it is a price way out of line with his win rate. Despite a very strong record at the venue (as discussed in our match preview) we can confidently sidestep.
So that leaves us with another question to ponder: does Steve Smith really have much to beat? Sportsbook go 5/2 that he finally manages a win after a barren run. We were on in a cheeky double (alongside Pat Cummins for top Aussie wicket-taker) in game two. The bet went down at the first hurdle as Smith recorded a duck. The pundits and ex-pros had a wibble about what was up with their best run-getter.
It is hard not to be influenced by that. Smith could be struggling mentally, physically, technically. Or he could have got a succession of decent nuts.
The only thing we really know is whether Sportsbook's odds are out of kilter with our implied chances on win rate.
Sportsbook give him a 28% chance. We rate him at 32%. That means we should probably show him the respect he deserves and give him another chance. And we are probably grateful for Warner's presence because it stopped Smith shortening prohibitively. Marcus Labuschagne is value on win rate, too, at 11/4 but we swerve players for consecutive wins.
Australia top bat wins/matches
Paine 2 1t/29
India top batsman wins/matches
Another Australian with whom we need to show patience is Pat Cummins. We shrewdly left him alone for the pink-ball Test but went back in for the MCG. No cigar.
With 11 wins from his last 31, Cummins has a win rate of 35%. With each blank we expect the edge to disappear but Sportsbook continue to give us an edge. They go 5/2 (28.6%) and although the margin is getting thinner we have to stick to our rule of taking a wrong price. On his home ground, he should feel comfortable. He has the best strike rate among his team-mates for first-innings action at the venue.
We would like to be on Ravi Ashwin, too, at the same price. He is a bet on win rate. What worries us is his dreadful record at Sydney - one wicket in first-innings in two matches. Kuldeep Yadav does have a five-wicket haul in the first dig at the ground but otherwise the record of spinners is poor and they are more effective in the second innings.
Australia top bowler wins/matches
Lyon 8 4t/44
Hazelwood 7 4t/36
Starc 10 2t/35
Cummins 11 4t/31
India top bowler wins/matches
Bumrah 3 t/15
Shami 3 2t/26
Ashwin 8 2t/23
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l & COB Best Bets