Pakistan v England ODI Betting: Hosts not to be trusted

Morgan is a key man for England
Morgan is a key man for England

Ed Hawkins previews the four-match series and expects the tourists to be a tougher nut to crack than they were in the Test series

"Pakistan have won one from their last six series and three from their last 11. And since 2012 they have suffered heavy beatings."

Recommended Bet

Lay Pakistan to win ODI series at 2.1211/10

On the bald face of it, Pakistan have just completed a comprehensive victory over England in the Test series. Winning margins of 178 runs and 127 runs suggest dominance. One side being far more powerful than the other, least of all more adept in the conditions.

But how important were the five-day contests as far as gauge for the one-day series, which starts on Wednesday? It is tempting to reckon that because the hosts had it all their own way in the Tests then over four 50-over matches their superiority should count again. After all, they are 2.0421/20 favourites to take the series with England 4.57/2 and a draw 3.185/40.

It is not as simple as that however, because paradoxically, ODI is a much more simple format. The nuances and the challenges (technical and physical) are not as varied or as great. Perhaps most importantly the pitches are not as significant.

An England supporter may, rightly or wrongly, point out that they lost the Test series because they lost the toss on each occasion. Batting last on a wearing, turning wicket with two spinners - one superb the other admirable - is about as tough as it gets. Had England batted first the result could have been different.

Indeed, the threat of Yasir Shah, he of the superb variety, is reduced in ODI. And therefore the threat of Pakistan is reduced. They cannot rely on winning the toss, batting first and then chucking the ball to Yasir to bowl them to victory on a raging tuner. ODI cricket doesn't work like that. It certainly doesn't work like that in the UAE - of the last 34 results, 18 have been won by the chasers.

It is significant that in Test series, Pakistan soar in the UAE but in ODI they struggle. They have won one from their last six series and three from their last 11. And since 2012 they have suffered heavy beatings. England beat them 4-0, South Africa won 4-1 and Australia whitewashed them in three.

Pakistan are a totally different beast when it comes to the limited-overs format and it is hard to consider them trustworthy at such skinny odds.

Pakistan are not at their strongest. That is if we take into account statistics in the last two years.
They are without Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal, Nos 3 and 4 respectively on their top wicket-taker list during that period. Given England's weakness against manoeuvring spinners in the middle overs, it would be foolish not to reckon that it could be a factor.

There is no Misbah-ul-Haq, either, which will please the tourists. It gives Pakistan the possibility of a soft underbelly with the inexperienced Babar Azam batting at No 6.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with their top five, however. Azhar Ali, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik can do the lot and their collective nous will surely frustrate England.

With the ball the irrepressible Wahab Riaz and giant Mohammad Trfan are potent. Wahab has a strike rate of 28 in the last two years while Irfan's steepling bounce will unsettle England.

England, of course, are not their strongest, either. Steven Finn, their top-rated bowler, is out of the series, as is Mark Wood and the all-round abilities of Ben Stokes are missing.

Finn's and Stokes' shoes will be filled by Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes. Both have surprisingly good records since 2013. Indeed, they have strike rates of 32.4 and 36.1 respectively compared to Finn's 32.3.

It should also be noted that Jos Buttler's fall from grace is potentially damaging to England's new-found reputation as a one-day force. Buttler has scored 1,169 runs in his last 42 appearances at an average of 35 and a strike rate of 111.

It would be pushing it to claim that Buttler was the heartbeat of the side but he changed the tempo at crucial times when setting a target or a chase. England need him at their best.

If Jonny Bairstow replaces him he must try to fill a huge void. Bairstow could be capable of bridging the gap, though. In his five games in the last two years - a small sample admittedly - he averages 47 at a rate of 117.

Joe Root and Eoin Morgan, much like the former and Alastair Cook in the Tests, are crucial to England's chances. They must finish the job if fast starts are provided by the enigmatic duo of Jason Roy and Alex Hales.

Pakistan have the nod with the bat in terms of the top order - as you would expect from jollies - but England will bat down to No 10. One from David Willey, Liam Plunkett, Woakes or Jordan is going to be very sore at having to bat no higher. That strength in depth is another factor which sways us towards England, rather than Pakistan who could have Wahab batting at No 9.

It is edge, for sure, although the temptation to back England is resisted. The smart money is keeping the 2-2 draw - priced at 3.211/5 on side on the correct score market. If you are backing England you may as well take the superior 5.39/2 that they win 3-1 as a whitewash is surely beyond them. Likewise Pakistan who are 3.259/4 to win by the same scoreline.

Recommended Bet
Lay Pakistan to win ODI series at 2.1211/10

Ed Hawkins P/L

2015: +£367.80
2014: +315.10
2013: +250.80
To £10 level stakes (unless otherwise stated), based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate.
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