Ed Hawkins finds top bat and bowler bets in Southampton for another Cricket World Cup mismatch on Saturday...
"India need to keep thinking, improving, strategising. A reliance on what has always worked in the last two years might not be enough"
India v Afghanistan
Saturday 22 June, 10:30
Pant needs to come in
Shikhar Dhawan has been ruled out of the World Cup with injury which means KL Rahul, barring a catastrophic loss of form, will open for the remainder of the tournament. Although Dhawan has top scored for India in the last five global tournaments, it might not be a huge blow.
It gives India the opportunity to tinker and improve their middle- to lower-order. Rish Pant has been added to the squad, giving them the chance to add fast runs. There is a sense that if Hardik Pandya does not come off, India might struggle to get up to the 400s - it's a mark which may be necessary to reach in this World Cup given England's batting prowess. With Rohit Sharma, Rahul and Virat Kohli such a strong front three India can afford another blaster.
Kedar Jadav should be the man to miss out. He didn't bowl against Pakistan and he might not be able to match Pant's muscle. India need to keep thinking, improving, strategising. A reliance on what has always worked in the last two years might not be enough.
Afghanistan dug in against England in their last outing. Although never remotely in the hunt for a target of 398, they would have taken confidence from a score of 247. It was their highest of the tournament.
A 94-run stand by Hashmatullah Shahidi and Ashgar Afghan gave the contest some sort of meaning as pundits began to wonder whether England's bowlers were taking it easy or beginning to run out of ideas. Hasmatullah and Ashgar could well prove to be Afghanistan's most solid combination, particularly with chaotic blaster Hash Zazai replaced.
There was a strong all-round performance from captain Gulbadin Naib. He took three wickets and then struck a 28-ball 37. However, Rashid Khan had a stinker and was, frankly, taken apart by England. The wizard is having a disappointing series - his three wickets have cost 74 each.
Pant needs to come in
First-innings scores of 227 and 212 by South Africa and West Indies against India and England respectively at Southampton have been a surprise. The wicket is normally terrific for batting. Before the tournament, more than 300 had been busted five times in the eight games and the average was more than 300 since 2010. Seven of the previous 11 day matches had also been won by the side batting first. If India bat first anything less than 350 will be below par given the opposition.
Afghan price could rise qucikly
India are 1.041/25 for victory with Afghanistan 23.022/1. The only option is a trade on Afghanistan but there's no evidence they can get a foothold in the game and it could be a case of as soon as the money is down, it's lost. It could be only a few overs before their price begins to climb and never comes down.
Rohit a right bet
Rohit has usurped Kohli as jolly for top bat. Quite right, too. He gets an 11/5 quote from Sportsbook. It's not quite short enough on two-year data on this market. That quote is implied probability of 31% and we have him winning at 37%. Kohli wins at a rate of 27%. The 12/5 suggests a rate of 29%. Close but not close enough. Rahul gets a 3/1 quote although the study sample is not big enough to call him one way or the other.
Kuldeep worth a follow
Kuldeep Yadav found some form last time out against Pakistan to share honours on top India bowler for the 12th time in the last two years. He has 12 outright wins in the same period. This means Sportsbook's 4/1 is generous by a whole point. For the record, 5/2 jolly Jasprit Bumrah wins at a rate of an 11/2 chance in the last two years.
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. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l