Ed Hawkins analyses the strengths and weaknesses of each of the teams hoping for glory in the mini World Cup, which begins on Thursday...
"England have to learn to recognise they can’t blaze away from start to finish. Concerns remain about their ability to defend big targets after South Africa got within two of 330"
Group A winner 2.3211/8
Strengths England have the best win-ratio of any team since the last World Cup. They are aggressive, fearless chasers and have a clutch of extremely impressive players. The wicket-taking threat of Adil Rashid means this may be the best balanced ODI team they have ever had. Home advantage should not be sniffed at. Even in the bad old days England were a force in their own yard.
Weaknesses Are they smart enough? They attack whatever the conditions. This proved fatal at Lord's against South Africa on Monday when they went hard with the ball zipping about. They have to learn to recognise they can't blaze away from start to finish. Concerns remain about their ability to defend big targets after South Africa got within two of 330.
Group A winner 2.427/5
Strengths Well, they are not World Champions for nothing. In David Warner they have the best opener and if he is paired with the destructive Chris Lynn, they could take some stopping. A fit Mitchell Starc is expected to form a tantalising pace partnership with the emerging Pat Cummins.
Weaknesses They don't fare well in English conditions. Their Champions Trophy campaign here in 2013 was a disaster and they failed to get out of the group. England, New Zealand and even Bangladesh could give them some tricky times. A pay dispute with the board is hardly good preparation.
Group B winner 2.26/5
Strengths The No1-ranked team in the world. They also boast the best win-loss ratio of any team against top eight teams since the World Cup. They boast four of the best 10 batsmen in the world and Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada are ranked Nos 1 and 5 respectively. A spot for Wayne Parnell, instead of Morne Morkel, lengthens their batting
Weaknesses They hardly enamoured themselves to punters with a shoddy display against England in the three-match one-day series. And they are still losing games from positions of strength it seems.
Group B winner 2.47/5
Strengths They are the holders so any suggestion that they will struggle against a moving ball holds no water whatsoever. They should be most dangerous in a chase where the likes of Virat Kohli is capable of delivering a masterclass. India boast the second-best run rate behind England in the middle overs. B.B colleague Jamie Pacheco has outlined the reasons for backing the Indians.
Weaknesses Since the 2015 World Cup only Pakistan and Sri Lanka have worse win-loss ratios against top eight teams. They would be foolish to rely on spin twins Ravi Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin too much. English wickets for this tournament are not expected to turn much.
Group A winner 5.85/1
Strengths Their odds. They are almost underrated, no matter what format they are playing. And you always get a run for your money as their final spot in the last World Cup, semi-final appearance in the T20 and final of this event two tournaments ago prove.
Weaknesses They are a batsman light. There is a lot of pressure of Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson for runs and although Ross Taylor has class, he has periods where he is just not with it. They probably lack late-order power, too.
Group B winner 7.613/2
Strengths The prospect of Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan swinging the ball round corners will give Pakistan confidence. Don't be surprised if they manage to wreck a top-order early on. With the bat Babar Azam is an emerging talent while wise heads Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik give them terrific middle-order nous.
Weaknesses They just don't beat the top eight teams often enough. And that is down to their batting which is two or three hitters light. They struggle to score quickly and in a tournament where 300 is expected to be breached with regularity they are likely going to come up short.
Group B winner 10.09/1
Strengths This lot have got a great mix of youthful exuberance and experience. Kusal Mendis, their hitter in chief, catches the eye while lower down watch out for Asela Gunaratne. There is no doubt that a bowling attack of Nuwan Kulasekera, Suranga Lakmal and Lasith Malinga will be tricky.
Weaknesses Plenty given their paucity of wins since 2015. Most pertinent is their inability to keep things tight in the death overs. They are conceding more than anyone else in the tournament in the last ten overs.
Group A winner 10.519/2
Strengths This is a talented group which has every base covered from fast starters, middle-order class, lower order brawn, an all-rounder, good spin options and terrific pace. The latter comes in the form of Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed who are very dangerous. One of these days they are going to go deep into a tournament.
Weaknesses Despite the talent they just don't win often enough. And how are they going to get the two wins needed to give themselves a chance of getting out of a group including England and Australia?
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.
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