The Cricket World Cup starts on Saturday and there are a clutch of teams with a decent chance of winning. Chris Hutcheon previews.
Australia have won the competition three times in a row but their poor showing in the Ashes, albeit in the five-day format of the game, means that many are overlooking the Baggy Greens ahead of this year’s tournament despite the fact that they hammered England 6-1 in the pair’s recent ODI series.
Admittedly, cricket Down Under is in transition but at 11/2 with 888sport, the Aussies almost look like dark horses, although the lack of a top-class spinner on the lifeless pitches of the Indian sub-continent suggests that they will relinquish the trophy they have held since 1999.
Buoyed by their impressive performances in retaining the urn, England head to the competition in relatively confident mood but they flopped with the bat against Australia in the limited-overs contests and their heavy series defeat saw their odds nudged out to 8/1 by Partybets. It’s hard to see them going all the way.
Elsewhere, South Africa, at 11/2 with Betfred, possess a decent pace attack but might struggle in the spin department and don’t perhaps bat far enough down the order and Pakistan at 8/1 () have the quality to cause problems but could prove to be a hit-and-miss to go all the way.
That just leaves India and Sri Lanka, two of the host nations. The former are Paddy Power’s 3/1 favourites to become the first true host, that is a team on home soil in the final, to emerge triumphant and you have to respect a team with such a rampant batting line-up.
Nevertheless, with a strong battling line-up, arguably one of the best spinners ever in Muttiah Muralitharan, a potential star of the tournament in strike bowler Lasith Malinga and few weaknesses, it’s Sri Lanka that represent marginally better value than India, at 9/2 with Betfred. The conditions will also suit the 2007 runners-up, who, unlike India, won’t have the added pressure of playing the final, if they get there, in their own backyard.
Saturday 19 February 2011
India v Bangladesh (08:30 GMT)
Monday 21 February 2011
Australia v Zimbabwe (09:00 GMT)
Tuesday 22 February 2011
England v Netherlands (09:00 GMT)
Wednesday 23 February 2011
Kenya v Pakistan (09:00 GMT)
Thursday 24 February 2011
South Africa v West Indies (09:00 GMT)