There are fine margins to cricket betting. And the Pakistan Super League is a great example of that. On Sportsbook prices there is but 1.17 decimal points between the favourites for the tournament and the 'rags'. And there are two of the latter.
Karachi Kings, winners in 2020 and led by the unstoppable Babar Azam, are the favourites. Peshawar Zalmi are next best at 7/2 followed by the champions Multan Sultans at 4/1, Lahore Qalandars at 4/1 and then, bringing up the rear Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators at 9/2. Bet on the outright here.
Why are they so hard to separate? Well, they're not. There are good teams, average teams and poor teams. Balanced teams and unbalanced teams. Teams with churn and tight teams. All is discussed in our team-by-team guide
But the narrow odds make sense. This is a toss tournament with a quite extraordinary bias for the chasers.
The first half of the tournament is played at the National Stadium in Karachi. The second at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. They are both win-the-toss-win-the-game venues.
In the last 26 PSL games at Karachi, 21 have been won by the chaser. In Lahore it's seven of the last nine. In the domestic T20 competition at that ground, 12 of 15 have gone the way of the side fielding first.
That means over a study period of 50 matches the bias for the chaser stands at 80%. That's extraordinary.
Understandable, then, that the teams are so close together. Win the toss in the play-offs? Win the tournament. And that's not as crude as it sounds because with four of six qualifying, anyone really could win it.
And for that reason the 9/2 shot is as hot as the 10/3 shot. Well, Islamabad United are anyway.
If all was fair in love and war they'd probably win it. They topped the league standings last term and have bolstered their squad in exactly the right places, performing well across three key metrics of batting run rate, boundary percentage and bowling economy. They're our favourites before the coin comes out.
The top tournament batsman market is only tricky to call if you have an aversion to betting a 3/1 jolly. And what a favourite.
Babar won it last time and the season before that.
On the numbers below, only Multan's Mohammad Rizwan looks a genuine threat. And he comes priced at 4/1.
It's surprising pickings are slim because we know that we must follow an opener. Only once has a No 1 or No 2 not triumphed.
We can (probably) rule out Jason Roy and Liam Livingstone because they miss games with England. Does that mean Alex Hales is value at 12/1 with a decent RPI? Fakhar Zaman, the main man at Lahore, needs an uptick but he is more than capable ability-wise. He is 11/1.
We have played safe with a bet on Haider Ali for top Zalmi bat, keeping our fingers crossed he gets off to a flyer from the opening berth. The crazy 100/1 on Shan Masood we discussed on Cricket...Only Bettor is a goner, alas.
Openers runs per innings last 2 years
Wasim the new Dhani?
A spin bowler has never won top PSL bowler. So that makes second-favourite Rashid Khan a stinker at 6/1.
Shaheen Shah Afridi, second last year and a winner the season before, is a fair favourite at 4/1. He will surely be there or thereabouts.
But on strike rates he is not the threat you might think. The list throws up some surprising names. So James Faulkner at 25/1 is no mug wager. We prefer him at 7s for top Quetta.
Shahnawaz Dhani, last term's top man, goes again for Multan. He is8/1. Often a pacer comes from 'nowhere' like Dhani. Mind you it wouldn't be a surprise if Mohamamd Wasim was the latest pace star. The Islamabad tyro is 25/1.
Strike rates of bowler 20+ wickets last 2 years
Mohammad Wasim 16.3
Shaheen Afridi 16.4