Starts Tuesday 10.30
Both Afghanistan and Sri Lanka lost their opening match at the tournament. A bit like in a horse race, it’s worth considering not just the numbers themselves but also the manner of a team’s defeat in a game of cricket.
Sri Lanka were absolutely torn apart by New Zealand, posting just 136 and losing the game by 10 wickets. Their batting was erratic and indisciplined, their bowling toothless and ‘samey’ with no-one even looking like taking a wicket. More than that, it was their body language and attitude that was the greatest cause for concern. Sulking about the fact that a few of their best players weren’t selected for the World Cup or that a new skipper had just come in.
Afghanistan were comfortably beaten themselves but it was a totally different performance. They recovered well from a disastrous start, batted sensibly in the middle overs and their lower order was brave in posting something. They even took three Australian wickets in a gutsy performance. Australia by the way, will beat teams far more easily than they did Afghanistan, at one stage or another. The Afghans looked focussed, up for it, like they wanted to make the most out of their time at the World Cup.
So who would you rather be on? Afghanistan, up for it and with all their best players there? Or Sri Lanka, missing three of their best players for no apparent reason and playing like the whole thing is a chore? It’s not a ‘big’ price in terms of pure odds but it is in terms of value. You won’t see many better outside shots than them this World Cup.
So who can cause Sri Lanka’s downfall with the ball? As ever, Rashid Khan is the favourite at 2.1 and his numbers over the past few years certainly suggest that should be the case.
But there are good reasons to side with Hamid Hassan instead. Sri Lanka play spin better than they do pace and there’s a theory that Khan isn’t quite the enigma that he used to be. Very tricky to play because his legspin comes out so quick and there are a few variations, yes. But as batsmen have seen more of him over the years, it’s gotten a little bit easier.
Hassan had world-class batsmen like David Warner and Aaron Finch struggling with those awkward quick deliveries just outside the off stump and would expect a few Sri Lankan scalps if he bowls like that again here. At a far bigger price than Khan and no other real dangermen from among the other bowlers, he’s certainly the value.
2pts Back Afghanistan to beat Sri Lanka @ 2.1 with Betfair
1pt Back Hamid Hassan to be Afghanistan top bowler @ 5.0 with Betfair Sportsbook
You can read plenty more Cricket World cup insight, tips and analysis from Jamie at www.bettingmaestro.com.