India v South Africa
Thursday 9 June 14.30
TV: Live on Sky Sports
India have picked an experimental line-up for this five-match series. There is no Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli or Jasprit Bumrah for example. Not that their performances in IPL did anything but give the BCCI the willies about the World Cup prospects.
For all the power of the IPL, India are struggling to field a balanced XI. This squad seems top heavy with openers and finishers. There's a lack of in-betweeners.
KL Rahul will open with either Ishan Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad. Shreyas Iyer is the probable No. 3. Hardik Pandya should bat at No 4 as the one domestic batter who did well in IPL. Dinesh Karthik might replace Rishabh pant with the gloves.
The bowling looks strong. Here they have rewarded IPL form. Umran Malik is a potentially exciting pick for example.
Possible XI: Rahul, Ishan, Shreyas, Hardik, Pant, Karthik, Axar, Harshal, Avesh, Umran, Chahal
South Africa solid
South Africa are the same work in progress that they have been for years. They have a clutch of strong players but an unwillingness to go the whole hog and pick destructive, reckless game changers.
There is no Dewald Brevis, who was superb with his striking for Mumbai. That they won't pick him suggests they will once again be damned by a safety-first approach.
The halfway house is selecting Tristan Stubbs, an exciting young thruster. Had he been paired with Brevis we'd be all over them. Instead they could play both Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma, who strike at 114 and 117 respectively recently.
Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, David Miller and Anrich Nortje are positives. They all had good IPLs.
Probable XI: De Kock, Markram, Van der Dussen, Bavuma, Miller, Stubbs, Jansen, Maharaj, Rabada, Nortje, Shamsi
We have a decent study sample of matches to work from for the Arun Jaitley Stadium. There were 17 games played there in November in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy.
Thirteen of those matches were won by the chaser so it's fair to reckon that the toss could be important. It would be a surprise if whoever wins the toss doesn't field first.
It's not been a wicket for runs. More than 160 was busted in only five of those matches. So shorting the runs par line at the high end of the 160s could be a way to go.
India, on run rate in the last two years, are in for 172. South Africa are in for 164. So there's not much of an edge in favour of going overs.
We note Sportsbook's 5/2 that no fifty is scored in the first-innings, keeping in mind the difficulty batters have had. Bet the Sportsbook markets here.
Side with tourists in chase
India are 1.528/15. It's not a good price about a team which is largely experimental and there's a toss bias in play. South Africa are 2.789/5. Bet the match odds here
If the flip goes their way, they are worthy of a wager. There's not a huge amount of evidence that a talent gulf exists worthy of the price void.
Indeed, the visitors may even have an edge insofar as their XI is settled and each player knows his role. India are very much feeling their way here, trying to find alternatives for the World Cup in a few months' time.
De Kock has a strong record on win rate and a boosted 11/4 with Sportsbook is perfectly acceptable. He also has a decent record at this ground, averaging 31.
For India, Pant has some appeal because of an average of 40. But where he bats is anyone's guess. It could be anywhere from No 3 to No 6. We're not hugely enamoured with 5/1. KL Rahul has been boosted to 3/1.
There could well be a price rick with Hardik at 10/1. If - and it's no guarantee given India are prone to bonkers thinking - he reprises his No 4 role with Gujarat, it's a wager.
Likewise, Miller is too chunky at 11s for South Africa even if he is expected to bat at No 5. Hardi and Miller also catch the eye for top match bat at 30/1 and 33/1 respectively. De Kock is favourite at 4/1 followed by Rahul at 9/2. Bet the Sportsbook markets here.