The biggest tournament on this year’s cricketing calendar is finally upon us, with the world’s 14 best nations descending on Australia and New Zealand for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.
MS Dhoni’s India enter the competition as holders, having beaten subcontinent rivals Sri Lanka by six wickets in Mumbai back in 2011. They have, however, looked out of sorts since arriving Down Under, coming third in their tri-series with Australia and England. The holders are best priced at 10/1 with 888 Sports to retain their crown.
The co-hosts are two of the more fancied teams to become World Cup winners, with Australia 2/1 favourites with most bookies. Darren Lehman’s men have looked authoritative on home soil in all forms of the game this summer, and with plenty of firepower with bat and ball, they firmly justify their favourites tag.
World Cup nearly-men South Africa are widely available at 3/1 and also boast plenty of destructive players in their batting line-up: namely AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock. Likewise, co-hosts New Zealand could threaten the final, with batters such as Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and captain Brendon McCullum – notorious run-getters in one-day cricket. The Black Caps are 11/2 with Winner Sports and Betway Sports.
Aside from these four nations, England’s recent improvement in the 50-over format sees them arrive as 12/1 outsiders with Betfred Sports, while the experienced 2011 finalists Sri Lanka are widely available at the same odds. Pakistan and West Indies are further afield at 20/1 and 25/1 respectively with Betway Sports. Elsewhere, Bangladesh are not expected to trouble the latter stages, while Ireland, Scotland and Zimbabwe are considered the most likely associate nations to spring an upset.
In the top batsman market, South African icons Amla and de Villiers are popular selections, at 9/1 and 12/1 respectively with Winner Sports. Home favourites David Warner and Steven Smith have been in imperious form of late, with Warner available at 9/1 and Smith an appealing 16/1. New Zealand’s Williamson represents good value at 14/1, while Australia skipper Michael Clarke is a lengthy 50/1 with William Hill Sports if his recovery from hamstring surgery progresses well.
Regarding the top bowler market, Australian left-armers Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson lead the way at 10/1 with most bookies, while South African paceman Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are 11/1 and 18/1 respectively with 888 Sports. England’s James Anderson and Steven Finn are widely available at 20/1 and 33/1, while Sri Lankan "slinger" Lasith Malinga is an appealing 16/1 with 888 Sports and Coral Sports.