Ed Hawkins picks out the best wagers as The Hundred begins at The Oval on Thursday night...
"In time we expect a toss bias to emerge for the chaser (give Cricket...Only Bettor a listen below) and the price on the visitors should hold with them going after a target"
Oval Invincibles v Manchester Originals
Thursday 22 July, 18:30
TV: live on BBC2/Sky Sports
Sweating on Lamichhane
Only marketing people could come up with a name like Oval Invincibles, gloriously unaware of the stupidity when they fail to win every single game. But they've got as decent a chance as anyone of a 100% record after game one.
Oval will lose Sam Curran to England duty but he should be available for their first two group games. They are sweating on a visa, though, for Sandeep Lamichhane, the Nepal spinner. Lamichhane looks likely to miss out here and he is crucial to their chances of finishing in the top three. Remember, the group winners goes through to the final and second and third meet in a semi. Leggie Nathan Sowter should come in.
Lamichhane, one suspects, was the brains of the outfit. Otherwise they are all brawn, particularly with the bat. The counter is this format could all be about muscle. They are explosive in the front four while finishers like Sam Billings, Colin Ingram and Sam Curran are far from shabby. Saqib Mahmood will hope to continue his ace pace form.
Possible XI Roy, Jacks, Evans, Narine, Billings, Ingram, S Curran, T Curran, N Sowter, Topley, Saqib
Oval Invincibles team guide here
Originals down to bare bones
It is hard not to feel a little sorry for Manchester Originals. Not only will Jos Buttler, their marquee player, be available for just two group games but likewise Ollie Robinson who is central to their bowling plans and a more than useful late hitter.
Indeed, they will soon be severely depleted. Richard Gleeson and Jamie Overton are out of the tournament with injury. Their spots have gone to Glamorgan all-rounder Dan Douthwaite and leggie Calvin Harrison.
Being worried about their bowling (Lockie Ferguson and Matt Parkinson aside) seems fair. They have no worries about batting power but, then, few of these teams do. Well, none of them should considering the draft system. Look out for hard-hitting Tom Lammonby.
Possible XI Salt, Munro, Clarke, Hain, Lammonby, Brathwaite, C Ackermann, Klaasen, Ferguson, Parkinson, Finn
Manchester Originals team guide here
The Oval has a reputation for big runs but it rates as fifth-best for batting in terms of T20 runs per over from the tournament pitches. In the last two years we've seen a rate scored of 1.3 runs per ball. If that is repeated, a first-innings score of 130 is on the cards which is some way below the expected par score of around mid-150s.
At the moment we're guessing a bit as to what an average score will be because it is hard to measure intent. It could be the runs line is pitched in the mid 140s.
If so, we'd look to short inside the powerplay - the first 25 balls. We would expect carnage here and the market might overreact.
Manchester can chase
Oval are short favourites before a ball has been bowled in the new format. They are no better than 1.875/6 with Originals 2.0521/20.
The stickler for value in us means we're keen to get involved with Manchester. Favouritism for the home team seems to be based on Jason Roy and Will Jacks being paired up front. But Jos Buttler and Phil Salt can go shot for shot.
In time we expect a toss bias to emerge for the chaser (give Cricket...Only Bettor a listen below) and the price on the visitors should hold with them going after a target.
Openers top score more often the shorter the format gets. So it could well be that price-boosts for Roy at 13/5 and Buttler at 12/5 with Sportsbook are just not short enough. Salt looks very toppy at 7/2 if he opens as expected.
Other notable prices are the 22/1 about Sunil Narine topping for Oval. We think he might bat at No 4. Sam Hain and Lammonby look chunky at 10s at Nos 4 and 5 respectively.
Do bear in mind, however, that you'll probably be able to take double on anyone not opening with just a couple of boundaries to either of the blasters in-play. A sound strategy could be taking massive numbers from Nos 3-5.
The Hundred Preview Part 2 on Cricket...Only Bettor
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye column p-l