Pakistan v Afghanistan
Live on Betfair Video and Sky Sports Cricket
Can Pakistan carry on?
Pakistan are alive. The ridiculous and irrelevant comparisons with 1992 aside, they need to win their final two matches to qualify for the semi-finals. It is arguable that the hard work is done - their terrific effort against New Zealand puts them in a strong position. But it would be entirely typical of Pakistan to slip up here, or against Bangladesh in their final group match.
It's not typical, however, that they seem to be playing with strategy and smarts. The recall of Shaheen Shah Afridi, who has terrific two-year form, is a masterstroke and their pace attack suddenly has real menace. Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir have conjured form from Lord knows where and with Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan providing all-round talent - spin and late hitting - they look well balanced.
There are some worries, though. Imam-ul-Haq's form has dropped off surprisingly and he is need of a score. That his strong starts have not been missed too much is down to the nick of Babar Azam. Haris Sohail is also proving his worth.
Afghans have disappointed
Afghanistan remain bottom of the pile with little prospect of avoiding the wooden spoon. There can be no doubt they deserve to finish at the foot of the section and we have little sympathy for their travails.
They should have beaten Sri Lanka early on and from there it has been downhill. The campaign has been chaotic. A row has broken out between coach Phil Simmons and the board about selection, Mohammad Shahzad was sent home unfit and pacer Aftab Alam joined him for a "disciplinary breach". Throw in some shoddy fielding - minnow or not there is no excuse for that - and patience is wearing thin.
Even more surprising than a team failing to pull together has been the form of Rashid Khan. He recorded the worst ODI figures for a spinner when England took him apart. He at least hit back against India when Afghanistan almost pulled off the greatest shock in World Cup history.
That was a puzzling contest for the punter to comprehend. It is tempting to believe that India were complacent, although Afghanistan have to get a big tick for their bowling performance. Overall, that unit can emerge with credit. Their batters - Mohammad Nabi aside - need to shoulder the responsibility for failing to get them over the line.
England blasted 351 on the Headingley surface in May. It looked a totally different surface when they succumbed to Sri Lanka. It was slow, sticky. Angelo Mathews' innings in that game could have been criticised for being ponderous but he read it perfectly. It would get slower and slower. He was right. There was a hint of what could transpire in 2018 when India could manage only 256. Before this summer, ten matches since 2006 had produced a first-innings average of 295 with 300 busted four times.
Can make a case for an Afghan trade
Pakistan are hovering around the 1.152/13 mark with Afghanistan 8.07/1. It is possible to make a case for Afghanistan because of what they managed against India but there is risk involved.
After that match, against Bangladesh, they were worthy of a trade. But they never got the foothold required to even scalp for small returns. So the possibility that a trade on the Afghans never sees the light of day cannot be discounted.
Nor can the possibility that Pakistan, beaten by this lot in a warm-up, throw in something awful. If there is ever there was a strategy that was fool proof in international cricket it was surely avoiding Pakistan at odds-on. As we have said, there is something almost inevitable about them producing something forgettable.
Last chance Imam
On two-year data which reveals how often a batsman wins a top runscorer market, Pakistan's odds are slightly out. The implied probability percentages for their top three reads: Imam 36.3, Fakhar Zaman 26.8 and Babar 14. Sportsbook go Imam 26.7, Babar 22.2, Fakhar 27.8. Wstrong>With Imam at 11/4 we should probably get involved because the price is out of line. His form is suffering, though. Usually we would use Babar's favourite status on this market as a comfort blanket but Sportsbook are right to recognise Babr's win rate here. We'll keep stakes smart.
Afridi the man
Those who recall England's ODI series with Pakistan will remember we were consistently keen on Afridi for top Pakistan bowler honours. He has implied probability of 26.6% on our two-year data. Sportsbook make him a 10/3 chance, which translates as 23.1. He is the only 'wrong' price in the market and it's not bonkers to reckon he could make it talk at Leeds.