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World T20 preview

The World T20 tournament starts today in Sri Lanka and the very shrewd Stephen Maher has let me pinch his preview for the blog. You can follow Stephen's journey as a professional punter/trader via his blog GamblerFalls or on Twitter, @gamblerfalls.

You don't last in this game as a pro without being very astute, and I can assure you, this guy is. Unusual that he's a big cricket trader being from Ireland, but that probably removes a lot of potential bias. This preview was posted on his blog last week, so some of the prices may have moved.

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Well, it's finally here and hopefully its a cracker. A lot of people are expecting turning pitches for the competition but I dont really agree with that view, you tend to get a lot of good pitches in Sri Lanka.

I’ll go by betting order with a small few thoughts on each team before looking at the side markets.

INDIA

9/2 best price with bookies, currently 5.7 on Betfair. Obviously we all know how good their superstar batting is with Sehwag, MSD and co, but how good is their bowling? You have Zaheer Khan to lead the attack and maybe Irfan Pathan to back him up if its swinging, Ashwin for spin but at times all are liable to go around the park and youre also bound to have a few pressure release overs from someone like Kohli or Raina. You obviously respect them but IMO they wont be able to keep the runs down and will have to pile on the runs each game, and theyre bound to have one bad game, cant have them as favourites in the Super 8 group of death will possibly Australia, South Africa and Pakistan.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Ashok Dinda, Rohit Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, Manoj Tiwary.

SOUTH AFRICA

11/2 best price with the bookies, currently 7 on Betfair. All the talent in the world, and IMO the best team on paper, but will they choke? They usually do! Their batting is superb at times but also a little unreliable, as good as Duminy and Du Plessis are I wouldnt want to be relying on them to dig you out of a hole if they lose lots of early wickets. Kallis will no doubt do peoples heads in batting slow in one game, and opener Levi has been in horrid form of late. Their bowling should be OK though with Steyn, Morkel and Botha leading the attack and plenty of back up with Kallis, Duminy and Pieterson/Tsotsobe, just as long as they dont let Wayne Parnell anywhere near the ground. Again like India, in a really tough group but they should come through it really all things being equal, you’d fancy them to beat Australia, but will they choke under a Pakistan squeeze with the run rate going up..

AB de Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Johan Botha, Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Richard Levi, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Justin Ontong, Wayne Parnell, Robin Pietersen, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

SRI LANKA

11/2 best price with the bookies, currently 6.4 on Betfair. Home advantage will obviously be a major plus, as shown when India won the ODI WC in their home country – better decisions can be made knowing how surfaces play etc. But does that make them second favourites? Tough one. They have the easier side of the draw though (should they come through their first group) being in a Super 8 group with possibly England, West Indies and New Zealand/Bangladesh – so you can understand why theyre a bit lower, but then why are England such a big price then in that group too. Highly reliant on Jayawardena, Dilshan, Sangakkara and Mathews to score runs or theyre up shit creek without a paddle – much like India, youre asking yourself can they fire every game. The bowling is OK though – although with the IPL many teams/players have been able to see off Malinga is recent times (he particularly looks a mug against India), all in all they obviously have the massive advantage being the home team but I cant have them at 11/2.

Mahela Jayawardena (captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Akila Dananjaya, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Jeewan Mendis, Dilshan Munaweera, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Lahiru Thirimanna.

AUSTRALIA

13/2 best price with the bookies, currently 7.4 on Betfair. Really and truly a ridiculously poor T20 side from where they have been – and at one stage during the series with Pakistan they were ranked below Ireland. If you thought Sri Lanka were reliant on some batters, well Australia are hugely, hugely reliant on Warner and Watson up top for a good start – they go early and youre struggling to see a winning score with the bat unless one of the Husseys hits form. Thing is, the top two are so good they can win games on their own if they get going (as shown the other night against Pakistan) and they do have decent enough bowling at times – hopefully they dont try and bowl quick all the time and take a little pace off to suit the pitches over there, but if theres swing Starc and Cummins will be a handful early if both in the team. On all known form though, cant have them at all at 13/2 and sure if Warner and Watson blow every team every, so be it.

George Bailey (captain), Daniel Christian, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hogg, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.

WEST INDIES

13/2 best price with the bookies, currently 7.8 on Betfair. They have the team, they have the talent, but do they have the consistency? Funny thing is you could describe every batsman as a hitter bar Darren Bravo – excellent opening pair up top in Gayle and Smith, I’d like to see Smith not try to hit every ball for 6 and relax a bit, hes always had buckets of talent IMO. If they go early, you still have Pollard, Samuels and Russell to get you a good score, I really hope they put Russell up the order hes been batting way too low down lately IMO – hes another with massive talent and if needing 30 off the last two you’d wouldnt exactly be taking him on anyway. Bowling is OK on paper but liable to lose the head/momentum and go around the park at times, also liable to some poor fielding which doesnt help. Not really sure what to make of Narine – he wasnt as effective in England as the IPL (obviously standard higher) so it’ll be interesting to see how he goes. At the prices, although probably unlikely to go all the way when it comes down to it, I’d much rather be on them at 13/2 than Australia and Sri Lanka.

Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo, Samuel Badree, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.

PAKISTAN

13/2 best price with the bookies, currently 8 on Betfair. Head scratcher of a team, amazing talent, you could say they havent a brain between them – I suppose thats what produces brilliant moments though, they never think. They have, in my opinion, the best bowling in the tournament – if you trust them, but theres no reason not to in such a big tournament. Batting is obviously suspect and its really boom or bust at times – you’d always want them to bat first, no run rate pressure and they have an awesome record at defending scores, their bowling will always apply pressure. Razzaq is the man if they need 30 off two overs at the end, and Umar Akmal can hopefully have a good few weeks, but would worry about the opening combo – Nazir wasnt really that good in Dubai against Australia. Overall though again I’d much rather be with them than Sri Lanka and Australia – although they do have the hard Super 8 group, batting first in their matches will be the key to them I feel. And you just have to accept they will collapse at some stage, hopefully it's not in a knock out game.

Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Imran Nazir, Asad Shafiq, Shoaib Malik, Nasir Jamshed, Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal, Sohail Tanveer, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Raza Hasan, Yasir Arafat, Mohammad Sami.

ENGLAND

8/1 best price with the bookies, currently 10.5 on Betfair. Reigning Champions, and in a competition so open where any of the top 8 can win, why are they so big in the betting? No KP is quite obviously a huge blow and that loss would have a big impact on any team – he leaves a massive hole too because the opening pair are more than a bit dodgy IMO, I dont know whether or not KP would have opened but it would be fantastic if he was here and did. Kieswetter tends to be a dot ball or boundary merchant which wont work all the time, Lumb isnt good enough for this level these days so I suppose you’ll have the inexperienced Hales opening with him – they could be 100/0 after 11 or 5/2 after 2 which is the major worry with them IMO, but after that you have huge talent coming in, Morgan, Buttler, Bairstow with back up from Patel, Broad, Bresnan and Swann to get you an extra few runs, thats a long batting line up (hopefully they dont play Bopara who cant score a run atm). The bowling is pretty decent too, hopefully they give Finn the new ball with his pace and Dernbach with his changes of pace should go well in the death overs, Swann doesnt usually go for many so that will give them control mid-innings too. Their price is pretty big considering the draw – all things going well they’ll be in a Super 8 group with Sri Lanka, West Indies and New Zealand/Bangladesh – you’d fancy them to beat two of them really – England chased down 172 to beat West Indies earlier in the year I think they have West Indies sussed really, the Sri Lanka game will be 50/50 and the favourite will depend on form leading into it, and they should beat New Zealand or Bangladesh. Their early group has Afghanistan in it too, I dont think you could ask for an easier way to the semi-final really, and they look big given that passage at 10+ on Betfair. They are reigning Campions, ranked number one in the world, why are they that bit bigger than everyone else?

Stuart Broad (captain), Jonny Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter, Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.

NEW ZEALAND

20/1 best price with the bookies, currently 21 on Betfair. Usually everyone's ‘dark horses’ for a tournament and never win, they have looked completely useless before beating India the other day by one run. They have the batting talent but really and truly they should be out by the time the semi-finals come around, and its questionable whether they can beat Bangladesh in the early group too because theyve collapsed to spin more than a few times this year. T20 is their game but I just dont see them troubling the big teams, their bowling is that good at all IMO – and India had basically chased 160+ easily on Tuesday (traded 1.01) bar MSD letting the rate go way up late on. I’d want way bigger than 20/1.

Ross Taylor (captain), Doug Bracewell, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Ronnie Hira, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Rob Nicol, Jacob Oram, Tim Southee, Daniel Vettori, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson.

BANGLADESH

66/1 best price with the bookies, currently 60 on Betfair. I suppose theyre a bit lower on Betfair than with the bookies because they might be OK for a trade, but no real chance of going the whole way. You’d give them a decent chance to beating New Zealand and an outside chance of beating Pakistan so they do have hopes of going through to the Super 8s – they won't go further than that though really. Highly likely to lose from a position needing a run a ball going for mad 6s or something like that, much like Pakistan, they dont think much.

Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), Mohammad Mahmudullah, Tamim Iqbal, Junaid Siddique, Jahurul Islam, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Abdur Razzak, Elias Sunny, Mashrafe Mortaza, Farhad Reza, Shafiul Islam, Ziaur Rahman, Abul Hasan.

ZIMBABWE

250/1 best price with the bookies, currently 300 on Betfair. OK so they have no chance of winning the thing, but they are no mugs and recently beat a second string South Africa team – if I recall correctly that team had Wayne Parnell in it so that would explain it. In an early group with South Africa again and while you wouldnt give them much chance against Steyn and co, they’ll give it a good go and good luck to them. They’d be hopeful of a collapse from Sri Lanka to try and get into the Super 8s – you’d worry that they are a team that hasnt seen much of Malinga though.

Brendan Taylor (captain), Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Chris Mpofu, Forster Mutizwa, Richard Muzhange, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller.

IRELAND

500/1 best price with bookies, currently 310 on Betfair. Much like Zimbabwe, have no chance of winning the thing but they're well organised and will give it a good go. I suppose they have a chance of getting through to the Super 8s – if you were picking a team to face to surprise you’d definitely have West Indies in your shortlist, they usually cause surprise every big tournament and you couldn't rule out another with their group. Would have no chance in the Super 8s at all though.

William Porterfield (captain), Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, Ed Joyce, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O Brien, Niall O Brien, Boyd Rankin, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Andrew White, Gary Wilson.

AFGHANISTAN

1000/1 best price with the bookies, currently 750 on Betfair. Truth be told I don't know much about them, but I suppose their price reflects their chance as it takes a lot for the bookies to go 1000/1. In an early group with England and India who should both beat them comfortably.

Nawroz Mangal (captain), Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Izzatullah Dawlatzai, Karim Sadeq, Mohammad Jawed Ahmadi, Mohd Nasim Baras, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Mohammad Asghar Stanikzai, , Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Shapur Zadran.


TOP BATSMAN

Obviously Chris Gayle takes up most of the market and while hes very scary to bet against, I’m happy enough to look for someone bigger priced than 8/1 when looking for a bet like this. Kohli and Amla both arrive in the best form of possibly their whole lives and I’m sure they’ll both appeal to people as good E/W bets 16/1 (make sure to try and get a bookie going top 5) and while they are hugely respected and feared, again I’m going to go for someone bigger than 16/1. There are a few batsmen I like and are worthy of interest..

Eoin Morgan at 40/1 (60 on Betfair) – England's gun batsman and is a fantastic T20 player, likely to get good time in the middle given Englands opening batsmen not being top quality and although he arrives in slightly poor form, if he clicks into gear 40/1 should give you a good run for your money, hopefully England can go far in the tournament too.

Dwayne Smith at 50/1 (60 on Betfair) – Should open the batting with Chris Gayle for the West Indies and wont look out of place batting with Gayle. In the T20 against England during the summer he top scored with Gayle getting out early – so he can lead the team no problem, I’d like to see him even slow down a bit rather than try and hit every ball for 6, but sure thats West Indies for you. Windies also have the “easier” Super 8 group so hopefully he can rack up a few runs, with the outside chance of them reaching the semi-final too.

Yuvraj Singh at 66/1 (no real price on Betfair) – OK slightly muggy one here with Yuvi coming back from recovering from cancer, but he looked good (bar getting dropped) on Tuesday night with a breezy 34 off 26. He looked as if nothing had changed and he’d never been away hitting two 6s – one of them pretty huge. Should get a good bit of batting time at number 4 for India and it wasnt so long ago he was man of the tournament when India won the ODI WC.

TOP BOWLER

Another wide open market, with Lasith Malinga taking up most of the market at 10/1, as I said earlier I think having played against him more and more teams/players are getting used to his style and can see him off pretty OK. You’d be hoping he gets a lot of wickets against Zimbabwe in the early group to win, very happy to over look him at 10/1. Obviously Ajmal is worthy to be up there at 16/1 and is highly respected, but like the batsmen I’m going to go for a few big prices.

Shahid Afridi at 33/1 – Should benefit from Pakistans attack and the huge pressure it creates on batsmen, tends to bowl much more quickly than Ajmal and gets a lot more bowled, wouldnt really need spinning conditions to go OK too. Absolutely loves the big stage and everyone looking at him so expect his A-game and you should see him turning around for the cameras with the fingers in the air a few times. Should be a little lower at 33/1 IMO.

Mitchell Starc at 40/1 or Pat Cummins at 50/1 – I wanted to try and include an Aussie because they're in the early group with Ireland and West Indies and a lot of those batsmen could nick off to pace so it would be a nice base to work from, it was close between Starc and Cummins so I’ve decided to just spilt the stake between them, even though slightly preference is for Starc. Everything going to plan they’ll be in a Super 8 group with South Africa, Pakistan and India – Starc went very well against Pakistan lately and could do well against India too. India play spin so well I think its best to attack them with pace so they might get good results.

Jade Dernbach at 50/1- I really think his bowling will go really well in Sri Lanka, and in an early group with Afghanistan its likely he could get plenty of wickets there cleaning up the tail late on. Naturally its a huge advantage bowling at the death overs because you should pick up a few wickets from batsmen throwing it away going for big runs off the last two/three overs. England are highly likely to use him then and in a possible Super 8 group with Sri Lanka, West Indies and New Zealand/Bangladesh – they are all teams prone to a collapse and giving wickets away, all have batsmen that will be swinging like mad at the end too, so he can do really well. I really think hes the one that should be 25/1 and Broad 50/1 – but Broad is the captain so I suppose it's down to how they use Bernbach, 50/1 looks a good price to me anyway.

Johan Botha at 66/1 – Can't believe South Africa's main spinner is 66/1, Ladbrokes go a stand out price with everyone else going around 25/1. With the strength of the Saffer opening bowling in Steyn and Morkel – Botha is highly likely to pick up a few wickets in the middle overs as batsmen look to attack him rather than Steyn, he's no mug himself either and will certainly have a role to play if South Africa are to do well. 66/1 looks way too big.


There are some other markets worthy of a mention but without a betting interest, Paddy Power currently have an Overs/Unders market on highest team score, the line is 208.5 – I think that will be covered, but not enough to back it. And Bodog have a lowest team score market too, the line there is 65.5 – which looks really low at first look but I suppose the question there is can Afghanistan score 66+ against England and India? That should be close enough, at a push I’d say overs because 66 looks really low but I dont know enough about Afghanistan to back it. Also, in the ‘Team To Hit Most 6s’ market, West Indies are now favourites, if I recall correctly India have been favourites the last few times and West Indies 7/1+. New Zealand won it at the ODI WC for what its worth.

There's another interesting market on ‘Highest Scoring Captain’ with Corals, with AB de Villiers leading the way at 3/1 but he arrives to the tournament in terrible form by his standards. Jayawardene is 3/1 too and he is obviously a huge threat if backing anyone else, and the most likely winner IMO. You have Ross Taylor at 4/1 but in a poor enough New Zealand team its hard to see him getting too many runs, Bailey for Australia should be way bigger than 6/1 IMO and will Sammy and MSD get enough time in the middle to amass runs? I like Mohammad Hafeez at 13/1, opening the batting for Pakistan should give him the best possible opportunity for runs and he always has a swing which means hes likely to get his runs quickly too – a 50 here and there might be enough to trouble Jayawardene.

You can read his original article here.

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