The 2014 World T20 got underway recently as the minnows of the cricketing world travelled to Bangladesh for the chance to book their place with the big guns in the 'Super 10s'. With the first real heavyweight clash coming on the 21st, we take a look at the top eight teams and have some free betting tips for you.
Australia Group 2
After their frankly embarrassing demolition of England in the Ashes series this winter, the Aussies head into the World T20 as marginal favourites to take the title at a best priced 7/2. Unlike previous years, they are blessed with a more powerful batting line-up this time out. In particular, opening duo David Warner and Aaron Finch. To put this into perspective, Warner finished Australia's top run scorer in the latest Ashes series, and Finch hit a T20 world record score of 156 last summer. If these two can get them off to a good start, further big hitting follows in Cameron White and James Faulkner, teams cannot afford to bowl badly at any of them. One thing to bear in mind would be the conditions in Bangladesh though, lacking a really world class spinner will certainly hinder the Australians. How they face up against some of the best is likely to trouble them further. For this reason they are probably a little too short to back outright at 7/2.
Top Tip… At 11/4 with William Hill, back Aaron Finch to be the top Australia batsman. Despite lacking David Warner's experience, Finch boasts a far better average, strike rate and top score.
England Group 1
Although placed in the easier of the two groups even the most optimistic Englishman will not fancy their chances. Comprehensively outplayed by Australia and the West Indies in the last few months, England lack the most important of commodities in the T20 game, some truly big hitters. While many of their team are capable of reaching the boundary, doing it on a consistent basis is an entirely different kettle of fish. However, back in 2010 and written off by many, England shocked the world and won the tournament so let's not write them off just yet. Best priced at 18/1 it's clear the bookies don't give them a prayer, but if they can get off to a decent start, an each way backing wouldn't be the worst bet in the world. Nevertheless, based on current form, it's just not worth the risk.
Top Tip… In the last three matches Ravi Bopara has bowled his quota at a decent strike rate, picking up five wickets in the process. Easily the pick of the English bowlers from these games, Bopara finds himself at 16/1 with 888 Sport to be his country's top wicket taker. This is definitely worth a punt at such long odds.
India Group 2
Likely to favour the conditions in neighbouring Bangladesh, the Indians are best priced 5/1 to take the crown. With an embarrassment of riches in every department, they already look one of the standout contenders to back outright. A lot will depend on how quick they can start their innings' in the tournament. Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are short on form and aren't the biggest hitters around, neither is Virat Kohli who follows. Although the latter is arguably the most technically gifted player in the world, his game is far better suited for the 50 over format. Nervertheless, if the three can build a good score, the big hitting Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and captain MS Dhoni have all the tools to finish the job. Despite finding themselves in the tougher of the two groups, I would favour their all round team consistency to shine through and I'd expect them to top their group, whether they can win the title, I'm not so sure.
Top Tip… In conditions perfectly suited for spin, India have two aces in their pack with Ravindra Jadeja and Ravinshadran Ashwin. Teammates in the IPL as well as the national team, there is very little to choose between the two. However, with greater rounded experience and marginally better statistics, back Ashwin to pick up the most Indian wickets at 5/2 with William Hill.
New Zealand Group 1
Perennial underdogs, the Kiwis often exceed expectations on such occasions. They come into the tournament as long as 10/1, despite being in the easier of the two groups on paper. Unlike a few of their rivals, New Zealand have the individual firepower to win games on their own. In Brendon McCullum they have an excellent captain and one of those enviable players that is truly world class in every format of the game. He recently became the first ever New Zealander to score a triple hundred. Well supported by the explosive Ross Taylor, they have also added Corey Anderson to their ranks, and in Kane Williamson they have a wonderfully gifted all rounder and perfect foil for any big hitter. Anderson recently hit a world record for the quickest international hundred in a quite ridiculous 36 balls, this tournament is a big opportunity for him to shine. Up against Sri Lanka, South Africa, England and one of the small fries, New Zealand have a genuine chance of making the semi finals. At 10/1 they are definitely worth backing each way with William Hill.
Top Tip… As mentioned before, Brendom McCullum is a really class act and capable of huge scores. In the 2012 tournament, he finished fifth in the overall standings and scored the highest individual total. At 33/1 with Betfred, back him each way to be the top tournament run scorer.
Pakistan Group 2
Winners in 2009 and runners up in 2007, Pakistan are frequently the wildcard of the tournament. At a best priced 8/1 they offer some real value for anyone brave enough to back them. In Shahid Afridi they have one of the best all rounders in the game, spinner Saeed Ajmal is going to thrive on the Bangladesh wickets and captain Mohammad Hafeez can be a notoriously fast starter when opening the batting. However, they can be frustratingly unpredictable, with their fielding a particular reason for concern. In a group with favourites Australia, India and the reigning champions West Indies, they are certainly going to have their work cut out to make the semi finals. Nevertheless, facing up against India on the 21st, if they can pick up an early win it would certainly be worth monitoring their price.
Top Tip… Spinner Saeed Ajmal has picked up 12 wickets in his last 6 ODIs, is the second highest wicket taker in World T20 history, and has placed in the top five bowlers for the last three tournaments. Back him each way to take the most wickets with William Hill at 10/1.
South Africa Group 1
Despite being the best test side in the world, the South Africans have struggled in recent T20 tournaments. Heavy favourites in 2009 they were seen off by the surprise winners Pakistan, since then they have failed to get past the group stages. Nevertheless, they have an exceptional strike bowler in Dale Steyn, a taker of big wickets. IPL stalwart AB de Villiers is a world class talent both in the field and with the bat, a lot will rest on his shoulders if the Proteas are to progress from their group. Similarly to England, South Africa fall short in the batting department in the T20 format. They have terrific batsmen, some of the best in the world, but few consistent big hitters capable of winning games on their own. Priced at 8/1, there is better value elsewhere.
Top Tip… The unfortunately named Quinton de Kock has been a revelation at the top of the batting order in recent weeks. Against favourites Australia, South Africa were beaten easily in the last two ODIs, however de Kock has top scored in both games. Back him to be the top Proteas batsman at 10/3 with Coral.
Sri Lanka Group 1
Last year's beaten finalists Sri Lanka are the favourites to top their group, and a further 11/2 to lift the trophy. Similarly to India, they have a terrific team in all areas, but perhaps lack the strength and depth of the Indian squad. On form, their top order is unstoppable, with Kumar Sangakkara in imperious form of late. Elsewhere, Lasith Malinga frequently bowls over 90 mph, is the highest wicket taker in World T20 history, and is the only player to ever take four consecutive wickets in international cricket. In familiar conditions, if these two players perform to their best, Sri Lanka are going to take some beating. With nine straight ODI wins under their belt, including lifting the Asia Cup, the Sri Lankans have the most important aspect of all on their side, momentum. At 11/2 with Betfred, back them to win the tournament.
Top Tip… Specialist spin bowler Ajantha Mendis was the top tournament wicket taker back in 2012, he is also the only ever player to take six wickets in a T20 international. Back him to be Sri Lanka's top bowler at 3/1 with William Hill.
West Indies Group 2
Reigning champions the West Indies head into the tournament buoyed by the return of their star player Chris Gayle. After spending three months on the treatment table, it was touch and go over the Jamaican's participation. However, he showed no signs of rustiness in his comeback games, strolling to three 30+ innings in three West Indies wins. Arguably the most destructive opening batsman the game has ever seen, Gayle is capable of winning matches on his own. Ably supported by a plethora of huge hitters throughout the team, the Windies post some formidable totals and in captain Darren Sammy they have one of the best finishers in the T20 game. Their Achilles heel lies with a weaker bowling attack compared to other top teams, although Sunil Narine is one of the best spinners in the business, they still need to find 16 overs from elsewhere. In the tougher of the two groups, this could be their downfall. At 8/1 and without the injured Kieron Pollard, only back them from the semi finals onwards.
Top Tip… The return of Chris Gayle is too hard to ignore. Narrowly missing out on the top run scorer gong last time out, this could be his time. In April last year, Gayle produced one of the most incredible batting performances ever seen. Scoring a breathtaking 175 not out off 66 balls in the IPL, this was not against a pie slinging Mr Kipling 11 either, but facing some top class bowling. Any professional cricket player will tell you just how difficult that is to do. He might be a little slow between the wickets, even bag the odd duck here and there, but anyone with that kind of hitting in their locker is worth backing. At a best priced 10/1 with Coral, back him to be the top tournament run scorer.
World Cup T20 Betting Tips
Sri Lanka to Win – Bet Here at 11/2 with Betfred
New Zealand to Win E/W – Bet Here at 10/1 with Bet365.
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Bet on tonight's both teams to score tip at Bet365.