We are now just days away from the biggest international tournament of 2017 as the world’s eight best ODI teams get ready to battle it out for the ICC Champions Trophy.
England are the home nation and have duly been installed as bookmakers’ favourites, despite trailing South Africa, Australia, India and New Zealand in the world rankings. It should prove to be ferociously competitive, and here we assess both groups and analyse who will win:
England have a tough group, as they are in with Australia and New Zealand, but it could be worse and they should get out of Group A and make it to the semi-finals.
William Hill will have odds for them, review them before you bet, and you will see that England are just 1/4 to win their opening game against Bangladesh, the fourth team in the group.
Bangladesh are in the tournament for the first time since 2006, having usurped the West Indies in the top eight of the world rankings and thus qualifying for this competition in their stead, but they are not expected to go far.
It is a nice game for England to ease themselves into the tournament, and they can gain confidence with victory while Australia and New Zealand whack lumps out of each other in the other game.
It will be really tight between England, Australia and New Zealand, but the bookmakers think England and Australia will progress. William Hill has 6/4 on Australia to win Group A and 11/8 on England, with New Zealand back at 7/2 and Bangladesh all the way out at 16/1.
New Zealand are a strong team, but home support and familiarity with the conditions should see England sneak through with Australia.
This group features South Africa, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and it is hard to see the first two failing to progress to the knockout stage. Pakistan have some devastating spinners, but South Africa are rightly ranked number one in the world at present and India are devastating with the bat.
Pakistan have struggled overseas in recent times, as have Sri Lanka, and these two will probably miss out. South Africa are 11/8 favourites to win this group with William Hill, but the 6/4 on India looks more attractive as they have a great blend of youth and experience, and will be full of confidence as they go into the tournament as defending champions.
England have seen the most action from the betting public, but that could be patriotism blinding them. The odds are not particularly attractive on an inconsistent England team, but they will certainly benefit from home advantage and knowledge of the pitches and familiarity with the climate.
They are strong with the bat and the ball, and with James Anderson and Stuart Broad around they always have a chance, while Ben Stokes has been shining in the IPL. South Africa look a big risk at 4/1 as they often struggle at the semi-final stage, but Australia look an interesting choice at 7/2.
The young blood has given the team a new lease of life and in Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Coulter Nile they have top quality fast blowers that know the English pitches well, while Steve Smith, Aaron Finch and David Warner are excellent batsmen. India also look a great option at 9/2.
They might not like the conditions too much but a recent series win over England allowed them to show off their quality, and they have the best batsmen in the world, so at that sort of price it looks really interesting. At 7/2 and 9/2 respectively, you can go each-way on India or Australia and get a third of the odds, leaving you in profit if they reach the final, and that looks tempting. You could even back both as an India-Australia final could well be on the cards.
More controversy in the Australian camp.
Stuart Broad and Mitchell Starc star in Old Trafford morning session.
Rory Burns reckons England are still right in it.
Rory Burns is an England Test opener who looks the part. Praise be.
Steve Smith got 211 with his least convincing batting of the series. A freak.
Historic ton for Rahmat Shah against Bangladesh.
We’re really not at all sure what to make of that day’s play/rain/wind.
England lose Burns and Root in first over.
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