Thursday sees the start of the ICC Trophy, a shortened version of the 50 over cricket World Cup, featuring the top eight ranked countries.
Hosts England kick off against Bangladesh, and will need a win before facing sterner group rivals New Zealand and Australia. Holders India and world no. 1 ranked South Africa will be fancied to progress past Pakistan and Sri Lanka in group B.
With early summer conditions, we expect good batting tracks with little sign of wear or spin, but climatic conditions that could suit pace bowlers. As such we are very interested in proven pace bowlers being the prime weapon in their country’s attack.
The first to catch the eye is young gun Kagiso Rabada for South Africa. He looked excellent in the warm up games against England, taking four wickets at Lords. The betting for South Africa emphasises their top gun, spinner Imran Tahir – but on seamer-friendly tracks and against three spin-experienced opponents, we think he looks under-priced. Consequently Rabada looks excellent value with the combination of the new ball and death bowling.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been the Indian Premier League top bowler for the last two years, and he can use a lively and accurate stock ball and cunning end of innings variations to top the Indian bowling ahead of fellow IPL star Jasprit Bumrah.
India get two group matches at the batsman-friendly Oval. Opener Shikhar Dhawan was the top batsman in this competition in England four years ago. He looks to have booked a place courtesy of some useful warm-up efforts, and from the top of the order could have another good tournament. Interestingly he is second favourite to top India’s batting behind skipper Virat Kohli, but is far longer than a couple of his teammates in the overall competition best batman. That lacks logical sense, and with each way 1/4 the odds first four, he could be a lively contender for the tournament honours.
We fancy England for the tournament as a whole, and certainly Group A looks more predictable with England and Australia likely to overpower New Zealand and a poor Bangladesh. Stiffer opposition will arise from the Group B qualifiers at the semi-final stage, but we know England and Australia will be in separate semis, and hence there must a decent chance of them meeting again in the final. We would say about 5/1, so the odds offered by Paddy Power look tempting.
B Kumar, Top India Bowler, 7/2 generally available
K Rabada, Top South African Bowler, 10/3 generally available
S Dhawan, Top Tournament Batsman, 33/1 generally available
England v Australia, Name the Finalists, 13/2 Paddy Power
Please subscribe for notification of up-to-date tips and news, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook