There will be shocks
Pitch strategy revealed
The big team bias
The Cricket World Cup could be called a 48-game marathon over seven weeks of action. The reality is somewhat different because it is a tournament set up to maximise the chances of two blockbuster semi-finals (TV revenue anyone?) and ensure an upstart doesn't crash the party.
There are 10 teams and each will play nine matches. The favourites will get every opportunity to make the knockouts. See England's three defeats in the group stages in 2019. Six wins will guarantee progress although if rain produces a washout or several it is not inconceivable that five could be enough.
In other words, a team could well lose three times and still be crowned 'world champions'. Again.
Even so, tournament play is heavily weighted against the smaller teams. Six wins looks herculean (not to mention wholly out of line with statistical probability) for the likes of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and impossible for the Netherlands.
In that regard it may only be a test of stamina for the ocassional armchair fan. It's a sprint, really, with the likes of India, England and Australia able to take their time to stretch their hammies and make sure they're ready for that first knockout.
India are 5/61.84 with Betfair Sportsbook to make the final and the same price of 1.834/5 on the Exchange. We can be pretty sure that regardless of who they play in the last four, they will be shorter than 1.705/7 to win it.
India dominate - in every respect
Each of the last six World Cups have been won by the favourites; the last three by the hosts, too. It is India's to lose. They are 3.3512/5 on the Exchange for their third title.
Everything is India's favour and if anything goes wrong, be under no illusions that there could be interference from the very top to make sure it is quickly righted.
The sub-plot to this World Cup is that with an election looming, prime minister Narendra Modi, with the final played at his eponymous stadium, has very much hitched his wagon to the India team. This is part cricket tournament, part Modi re-election campaign.
In that regard the Asia Cup was a warm-up in every respect for India. They flexed their muscle by arranging a reserve day for their match against Pakistan to make sure progress to the final was smooth. The other teams had to stick to the rules which had not stipulated reserve days.
The dark arts are already underway. Pakistan's training camp in Dubai has been cancelled because India's manipulators delayed their visa. It's tawdry and embarrassing but is a sign of things to come.
If you think Pakistan, despite their ability, win a World Cup on the soil of their bitter enemy then a crash course in geopolitics is needed. The fixture list says a semi-final will be played in Mumbai. If Pakistan are in that game by dint of finishing first or fourth there is not a cat's chance in hell that they will play there.
Pakistan, with all the shenanigans they face, perhaps have the most difficult task of all to even make the last four. Be warned if you're considering taking the 8.07/1.
What will the pitches be like?
The pitches are a conundrum. This is early season in India and it might a mistake to fall into the trap reckoning that we will see dust bowls and spinners holding sway.
The last 16 matches India have played in October at home since 2015 have nullfied their advantage somewhat. They've won only eight of them. That even money record suggests surfaces might, just might, be a great leveller.
Toss biases and the split between bat- and bowler-friendly surfaces could make a difference on individual matches. But it seems unlikely, as discussed above, that they will produce a shock winner.
Pune has the highest batting average of the venues but we also expect big runs at Bangalore (not far behind on that metric). IPL experience tells us to expect flat ones at Kolkata and the Wankhede, although there could be new-ball seam and swing.
Dharmsala could also offer plenty for the pacers. It can be English-like conditions and New Zealand will be delighted to be facing India and Australia there. The Lucknow surface could be slow and low but has a watching brief tag because only four ODI have been played there,
We have identified the Chepauk as the ground most likely for shocks because of its tricky batting conditions and hefty 64% toss bias for the chaser.
There will be shocks, of that we can be sure. There were three in the 2019 edition with England losing to Pakistan and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh beating South Africa. In 2015, Ireland beat West Indies and Bangladesh beat England.
The most likely upsets are discussed on episode 213 of Cricket...Only Bettor. Chennai hosts five games with three likely to be 'mismatches' according to the match odds market. Getting with the outsider with the toss in their favour is a solid strategy in Chennai. New Zealand could be on the receiving end against Bangladesh and Afghanistan there.
Although we don't expect a rag to claim the title, there could be upsets on other markets. Bangladesh, chaotic and prone to self-destruction, are already being eyed at 14/115.00 to finish bottom.
Sportsbook have gone up early with their top bat and bowler prices for each team and we need to trsike quickly to snaffle the value for two outstanding wagers. if you have only two bets in the entire tournament make them these.
First is Ibrahim Zadran to win the top Afghanistan top tournament bat at a crazy 10/34.33. Ibrahim is a class apart in the opening berth for the Afghans and has dominated the run charts.
He should be prohibitvely short given his reliability, not to mention he's winning on the individual market at more than 30%. No-one touches him in this line-up. Only the pressure of carrying the team could stop him.
It would be wrong to say that this is the tournament that Shubman Gill announces himself on the world stage because he's been smashing attacks in IPL and ODI for yonks. Crucially, he has shown in the Asia Cup and in the recent ODI series against Australia he can do it when the stakes are higher and there are better bowlers steaming in.
We have him as the 5/23.50 favourite for top India bat instead of Virat Kohli. Sportsbook's 11/43.75 that Gill takes charge again is a gift.
Listen to Cricket...Only Bettor: The ultimate betting guide to the World Cup Part 1 - the underdogs