Tue, May 30, 11:56am by Senior Writer
Australia are second favourites to regain the ICC Champions Trophy, which begins in England this Thursday, with the hosts the current punters’ picks.
The Aussies haven’t played in an official 50-over match since their loss in the Chappell-Hadlee Series in New Zealand in February. Since then, they have endured a dramatic Test series loss in India before most of Australia’s players participated in the Indian Premier League.
They came back together ahead of this tournament and prevailed in a thrilling high-scoring warm-up match successfully chasing 319 against Sri Lanka, with Aaron Finch starring with 137 and Travis Head making 85.
Their plans to have a second warm-up against Pakistan on Monday were thwarted by England’s fickle weather with just 10 overs bowled.
The Aussies are $4 to win the tournament and their campaign begins against New Zealand ($9.50) on Friday evening (AEST), while they also face $3.75 favourites England and outsiders Bangladesh ($41) in Group A.
The tournament format is relatively cut-throat, as Australia found out in 2013. They lost their first game, then had a no result against New Zealand which put them on the edge, before they lost to Sri Lanka to bow out as defending champions.
WATCH: Our Preview of the ICC Champions Trophy
India went on to win the tournament in a final against England which was reduced to a Twenty20 match because of rain. That result was not popular with the home fans, who felt that it wasn’t a fit way to determine who was the better 50-over side.
The ICC rankings have the English as low as fifth in the one-day format, but their form in the past 12 months warrants them being favourites. They have won 17 of their past 24 ODIs and prevailed in a three-match series against world No.1 South Africa this week.
The keys with the bat for England are captain Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes, who both made centuries against the Proteas, while they have a consistent bowling attack spearheaded by Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes.
South Africa are $4.33 third favourites having had a similar record to England over the past 12 months, with 17 wins from 25 matches. That includes two 5-0 home whitewashes over Australia and Sri Lanka.
They are drawn in Pool B with India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka but their concern is a poor record in England, where they have won just four of 11 ODIs over the past five years. One of those wins was on Monday when Kagiso Rabada, arguably the best young bowler in the world at the moment, took 4-39. They also boast the best top-order in the game with five world class batsmen.
Defending champions India are $5.50 having played just 11 ODIs in the past 12 months. They had narrow home series wins against New Zealand (3-2) last October and England (2-1) in January and haven’t played an ODI in England since 2014. They did win a warm-up game against New Zealand under Duckworth Lewis earlier this week and play Bangladesh ahead of their tournament opener against Pakistan at Birmingham on Sunday.
There is huge value in that market with Faf Du Plessis at $34. De Plessis has scored 677 ODI runs so far in 2017, 117 more than any other player and is certainly worth a play at that price.
In terms of the tournament, South Africa’s batting line-up is by far the best in it and a strong performance from their bowlers could see them win the tournament. I certainly think the $1.91 about them winning their Group is great value, when you consider India simply don’t prioritise this format of the game anymore.
Suggested Bet: South Africa to win Group B at $1.91
ICC Champions Trophy Winner (Sportsbet)
South Africa $4.33
New Zealand $9.50
Sri Lanka $26
ICC Champions Trophy Group A (Sportsbet)
New Zealand $6
ICC Champions Trophy Group B (Sportsbet)
South Africa $1.91
Sri Lanka $11
Top Tournament Runscorer (Sportsbet)
Virat Kohli $9
David Warner $9
Quinton de Kock $11
Steven Smith $11
Kane Williamson $12
AB de Villiers $12
Joe Root $12
Hashim Amla $13
Alex Hales $17
Rohit Sharma $19
Chris Lynn $21
Jason Roy $21
Aaron Finch $21
Others: $26 or Longer
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