Australia v Pakistan: Visitors could fail pace test
Ed Hawkins fears for Pakistan's batsman at the Adelaide Oval as the tournament favourites look to go through the gears early on Friday...
"With batting Pakistan's weakest suit, they could struggle here to post 275 or more and that could be the standout wager."
Lay Pakistan for 275 runs or more at [2.0]
Australia v Pakistan
Start time: 03.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Australia have been tournament favourites since it was announced the World Cup would be staged on their soil and they have looked every inch champions so far.
Sure, they were beaten by New Zealand in Auckland but even in defeat they proved their credentials as the best one-day side in the world. They batted poorly to be dismissed for 151 but roared back to lose by just one wicket.
They have one of the top wicket-takers of the tournament in Mitchell Starc and have been bolstered by the return from injury of James Faulkner, who has the ability to prove he is one of the best all-rounders in the world in the knockouts.
They have fine-tuned in the group stages. Steven Smith has moved up to No 3 in a move which should make them more solid. Shane Watson has dropped down to No 6.
If there has been a surprise package in this World Cup it is Pakistan, purely by dint of their unexpected victory over South Africa. Indeed, it was something of a shock that they didn't slip up against an associate.
They are in the quarters largely thanks to their bowling attack. That's another eyebrow-raiser considering they have been shorn of Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez, their two most effective bowlers recently.
Wahab Riaz has found pace and bounce, ably supported by the giant Mohammad Irfan. It is a great shame that Irfan is out of the tournament through injury as it robs us of a potentially mouthwatering contest between ball and bat.
The seamer Ehsan Adil replaces Irfan. There is unlikely to be a spot for Younis Khan but Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi form a middle order which, on their day, can do the lot.
The first-innings average in the last ten ODI at the Adelaide Oval is just 250. In this World Cup the three first digs recorded were 300 (India versus Pakistan), 275 (Bangladesh v England) and 237 (Ireland v Pakistan). So it would be fair to say that the ground has bucked the trend for monster totals.
With batting Pakistan's weakest suit, they could struggle here to post 275 or more and that could be the standout wager in a contest which, consistent with the other quarters, has punters searching for value due to prohibitive match prices.
Starc and Mictchell Johnson have dominated Pakistan in the past and they should do so again in conjunction with a bowling line-up which has been so dangerous they have only needed to bowl 49 balls in the last ten overs of the group games.
Australia are [1.23] for this one with Pakistan [5.3]. It leaves us few options other than a hope that the visitors can raise a snarl and fight like cornered tigers for a spell so we can trade.
Otherwise Australia should win this comfortably. And there is plenty of evidence to back up a belief that it could be a very difficult day indeed for Pakistan.
If they lose the toss and bowl first they are as good as done for. They have now lost seven straight when asked to chase 250 or more and in 18 attempts since the last World Cup they have reached such a target once.
Michael Clarke averages 58 against Pakistan in ODI. He also boasts an average of 44 at Adelaide in the last five years which is bettered only by David Warner.
Sarfraz Ahmed, the wicketkeeper, has been promoted to open. It's a move which has paid off and he has a ton under his belt at this ground. He has a good record against the Aussies with an average of 43. Misbah is not Mr Reliable against the opponents. He averages just 20.
Lay Pakistan for 275 1st inns runs or more at [2.0]
Ed Hawkins P/L
2014: +325.10 (ROI 28.5%)
2013: +250.80 (ROI 25%)
To £10 level stakes, based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice
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