Australia v Afghanistan
Wednesday, 06:30 GMT
TV: Live on Sky Sports
It would be hard to find a better example of the volatility in cricket betting than Australia's defeat to New Zealand. At 80-1 with David Warner was at the crease, the par score on their first innings runs market was 350. After they'd collapsed to 151 all out, trades at the minimum 1.011/100 had been overturned in six different runs bands, from 175 or more, to 275 plus. The two above traded at 1.11/10 and 1.251/4. In their chase New Zealand traded at 1.01, yet only scraped home after a final ball six.
While it has little relevance to today's presumably one-sided encounter, that drama at least showed the rest that this Aussie batting line-up is not infallible. It may, however, require a rare, spectacular spell of bowling like Trent Boult produced to stop them.
Equally, the comeback demonstrated that Australia have the bowlers to complement a line-up that usually goes beyond 300. Mitchell Starc's 6-28 was outstanding. They will be significantly stronger in both respects if key all-rounder James Faulkner returns from injury today for his World Cup debut.
Nobody would begrudge Afghanistan their moment in the limelight, after producing arguably the highlight of this World Cup with that remarkable comeback to beat Scotland. This after giving Sri Lanka a fright. No Associate Member country has made swifter progress.
Unusually for a lesser Asian side, their strength lies in bowling, particularly pace duo Dawlat and Shapoor Zadran. However facing Warner et al, stung by a rare collapse last time, will be easily their biggest test to date of their short international career. Samiullah Shenwari aside, their batting looks fragile and particularly vulnerable on Perth's lively surface.
First Innings Runs
Obviously, there is an enormous gulf between the par scores depending on who bats first. While Afghanistan have bowled well, Australia could quite plausibly hit 400 against a minor country. Par will be barely short of 350, so I'll be prepared to back 350 or more at better than 2.56/4.
They bat well and score quickly down to the tail-enders. When they played England at Perth last month, despite struggling at 60-4, half centuries from Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh and Faulkner enabled a winning 278 total.
In complete contrast, Afghanistan will struggle to get 200, perhaps much less. Though they are better than the UAE, who scored just 102 here against India, they face the similar problem of vastly superior bowlers on a lively pitch. I'll be laying 150 or more at below 1.51/2.
It seems a little harsh on Perth that the first two of their three fixtures are mismatches. With the greatest of respect to Afghanistan, who have made superb progress in their short cricketing history, they are lambs to the slaughter here. There's little mileage opposing Australia at 1.021/50 and even less in backing such short odds!
Top Australia Batsman
Given the potential for Australia bowling first and chasing a low total, there's an obvious incentive to back one of the openers. However that is reflected in short odds about Warner and Aaron Finch, which would look pretty ordinary if they bat first. Instead, this winter's run-machine Steve Smith is due to make his first big contribution of this World Cup and rates good value at 8.07/1.
Top Afghanistan Batsman
With a very low score on the cards, this may not take much winning. Anyone capable of making 30 has a good chance, so the value could lie further down the order. Najibullah Zadran has batted at either six or seven and made 83 in an ODI before. Fair credentials for a 15.014/1 chance.
Back Steve Smith to be Top Australia Batsman 1u (one unit) @ 8.07/1