First time finalists New Zealand battle Australia for Cricket World Cup crown

Can Australia benefit from home advantage at the MCG?

Can Australia benefit from home advantage at the MCG?

 

It may have required an exhausting 44 days and 48 matches to reach, but finally the Cricket World Cup crescendo tops out in all the flip-flop, vest top glory joint-hosts Australia can offer. In the end, the final match-up was predictable, as Australia and maiden finalists New Zealand thrashed their way with unrelenting prowess to meet for the chance to become world champions.

Both deserve their place in the final for the attacking, edge-of-your-seat style cricket they have played. No team has matched their appetite for runs and ruthless fast-bowling, and as the pair walk out at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday we are likely to witness a truly stunning contest.

 

Cricket World Cup Final Betting Odds:

Australia win 11/25

New Zealand win 7/4

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Having smashed their way around both of their own islands, New Zealand now travel across the Tasman Sea for their first game of the World Cup on foreign soil. And while Australia will enjoy home advantage, their Kiwi cousins enter the final as the only side to win every match of their campaign including the group stage fixture between these two sides.

New Zealand offer better outright winner odds, but Australia are peaking at the right time and, as shown by their unforgiving dismissal of current champions India in the semi-finals, it is almost impossible to predict a victor.

As such, we need to look elsewhere, and one bet that is more tempting is Australia’s opening partnership to be under 29.5 runs at 5/6 with Coral.

Australia have posted an opening partnership over 30 just once in their seven games so far, striking 57 against England in their first match of the World Cup. Even then, they gave a simple chance in the first over, when Chris Woakes dropped Aaron Finch on a duck; New Zealand are unlikely to be so generous.

 

Indeed, so disciplined have they been in the early overs that only one side scored an opening partnership above 30 against them. Though new-ball pair Tim Southee and Trent Boult suffered late on in their last match with South Africa, where Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and David Miller went Thor-like hamming the seamers to all parts, they share 36 wickets in the tournament. Crucially for this bet, they remove opposition opening batsmen cheaply: on four occasions the opening stand has fallen for five runs or fewer.

And if the pace bowlers don’t work, New Zealand can turn to the spinning threat of Daniel Vettori in the knowledge he is unlikely to leak runs. The oldest player left in the tournament, 36-year-old Vettori has taken 18 wickets already in this World Cup, and his canny ability to change delivery speed will cause problems in Melbourne. Added to the attacking mind-set of captain Brendon McCullum’s field settings and the MCG’s larger boundaries and Vettori can be used from the off.

In comparison, New Zealand’s forthright batting has their first 15 overs run rate averaging at 6.97 runs per over (Australia lagging on 5.87). Opener McCullum proved against the pace attack of South Africa that even the world’s best bowling won’t prevent him from playing big shots. And though many will point to New Zealand’s smaller boundaries for their big-hitting success, 16 of their 25 knock-out round maximums would have still cleared the MCG ropes. So backing New Zealand to have the most runs after 15 overs (around evens with most sportsbooks) is a worthwhile bet.

 

Lastly, for those who enjoy bet-in-play options, look no further than an Australian win if Steve Smith reaches his half-century. The Australian batsman was pushed up to number three for their quarter-final bout with Pakistan where he made 65, and then backed it up in the semi-finals notching up a man-of-the-match 105.

Once mocked, Smith’s contribution with the bat has been telling, with Australia yet to lose an ODI contest when he makes 50. Averaging 71.50 in the number three slot, Smith provides a calm but powerful presence, building a platform for the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Shane Watson to exploit with their hefty middle-order blows.

 

FRANCIS KELLYfrancis avatar is a sports writer who has contributed to the Independent, the Guardian and The Cricketer magazine. He can be found waxing lyrical about Norwich City on Twitter

Cricket’s elite poised to deliver highest-scoring World Cup in history

The 49 matches involving 14 nations and preposterously spread over six weeks make the Cricket World Cup the most pointlessly truncated showpiece event in world sport. Yet despite the best efforts of the ICC and television broadcasters to elongate a process that guarantees the success of nations that provide the grandest viewing figures, the cricket itself will be of a high enough quality to dissuade the cynicism. Eventually.

The format from the drearily long 2011 tournament on the sub-continent has been retained for this year’s antipodean adventure; 14 teams will take part in the initial stages, divided into two groups of seven; the seven teams play each other once before the top four teams from each group qualify for the quarter-finals. The format ensures that each team gets to play a minimum of six matches even if they exit in the group stage.

 

Cricket World Cup – Outright Betting Odds:

Australia 2/1

South Africa 3/1

New Zealand 5/1

(All odds from Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The process guarantees that the major nations will all play each other, and with qualification a near certainty if they avoid humiliation against the associate and affiliate member nations – this year comprising Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates – meaning the competition may well prove a damp squib until the knockout stage begins on March 18.

While the format may work against the action and drama that World Cups bring across the sporting world, the fixtures that the group stage provides will at least bring a spectacle of world-class cricket. The tournament kicks off this coming Saturday – Valentine’s Day – where no love will be lost (apologies) between tournament favourites Australia, and England, who face each other just hours after the opening game between New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

 

The group stage is awash with potential classic encounters: the grudge match between Pakistan and India, the big-hitting of South Africa against the Indians and the carnage of world cricket’s arch mavericks West Indies and Pakistan.

Expect this to be the highest scoring World Cup in history; the pitches in Australia, and New Zealand to a lesser extent, tend to help batsmen, and with the trend of 50 over scores regularly in excess of 300, even 350, there will be runs galore.

 

As is always the case in these major tournaments, thoughts tend to extend to the players that will light up the stage. AB de Villiers, fresh from his record-breaking and astounding 149 off 44 balls against the West Indies last month cements his position as the number one batsman in ODI cricket. Elsewhere there is the nonchalant brilliance of Chris Gayle, who will surely produce something spectacular with the bat, the evergreen Sri Lankan stalwarts Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in their swansong tournament, and India’s superstar batsman Virat Kohli.

Heroic batting performances often take the plaudits and dominate the highlights reel, but there will be no shortage of high quality bowling on show either, especially with the juxtaposing nature of the pitches in Australia and New Zealand. The hard and bouncy surfaces in the former will suit the fast bowlers that look to hit the deck; look no further than Mitchell Johnson, Morne Morkel or Mohammad Irfan here. While the swing and seam-friendly conditions in New Zealand will assist the fast bowlers looking to add subtle variations to their deliveries, expect the likes of Dale Steyn, James Anderson and Lasith Malinga to excel in these conditions.

 

The destination of the Cricket World Cup trophy is between three teams; Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The holders, India (9/1 with AllYouBet.ag) , are on the back of a harrowing tour Down Under and have a record away from home that even Queens Park Rangers would be ashamed of. West Indies are in freefall both on and off the pitch while Pakistan lack the star quality. For South Africa, perhaps the nation packed with most quality in all three departments – batting, bowling and fielding – history is against them as they look to finally end their hoodoo of never winning a knock-out match in World Cup history.

New Zealand, so long the perennial dark horses, are now genuine contenders. Home advantage helps, but their form has been irresistible in the one day game and they now possess a litany of match winners, rather than simply leaning on the mercurial efforts of skipper Brendon McCullum.

 

For Eoin Morgan and England (also 9/1) a quarter-final finish would be a minimum requirement, and a semi-final berth a major overachievement. Despite the obvious improvement since Alastair Cook was stripped of the captaincy and removed from the side, they still struggle to post regular scores in excess of 300 – now par for the course in ODI cricket. The big-hitting of Moeen Ali, James Taylor and Jos Buttler will be key to their success, but so too the form of Joe Root at number four, so often the glue that holds the batting order together.

Whatever the qualms surrounding the format and the never-ending feel of the group stage, this World Cup is packed full of world-class cricketers at the height of their game. The ingredients are there for this to be a classic that the ICC needs after the disappointing fares of 2007 and 2011, even though you might be asleep for most of it.

 

JamesDutton JAMES DUTTON is a freelance journalist who has written for The Mirror, The Guardian and The Times. James helps to  run The False Nine football website, contributes to The Anfield Wrap and is a columnist for uMAXit Football. Follow him on Twitter.

Can England secure the ODI series at Lord’s?

Ian Bell adds more runs on his way to 41 not out in a comprehensive 3rd ODI victory for England in Manchester.

Ian Bell adds more runs on his way to 41 not out in a comprehensive 3rd ODI victory for England in Manchester.

The ODI series between England and Sri Lanka has been a topsy turvy affair so far with the first three one day international matches seeing a close England win then a bounce back from Sri Lanka to make it 1-1 after two matches with a 157 run win at Chester-Le-Street. However, the third game in Manchester saw England run riot, thanks to a Chris Jordan masterclass with the ball, to limit Sri Lanka to just 67 runs before Alistair Cook and Ian Bell wrapped up the match in less than an hour. Victory for the hosts at Lord’s again today will see them take an unassailable lead in this five game series, but will they win it today or can Sri Lanka push it to the decider at Edgbaston on Tuesday?

England v Sri Lanka 4th ODI Betting Odds:

England to win – 1.69

Sri Lanka to win – 1.99

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Coming into this 4th ODI at the home of English cricket, Lord’s cricket ground in central London, it is the hosts who have all the momentum after delivering a crushing blow to Sri Lanka last time out. Chris Jordan secured the man of the match award in Manchester after an amazing five wicket haul and just 29 runs conceded from eight overs and it he is sure to have the eyes of the world on him again in this one day clash. However, James Anderson removed both the Sri Lankan openers in Lahiru Thirimanne and Tillakaratne Dilshan as well as ceding just ten runs in seven overs, two of which were maidens.

While the English bowlers were on fire in Manchester during the 3rd ODI, this series has seen some inconsistent batting from both sides with just two English batsmen reaching double figures in the 2nd ODI at Chester-Le-Street and two of the top three for the guests at the Oval in the 1st ODI in Thirimanne and Kumar Sangakkara scoring a total of eight. If this form continues today, I feel that it is likely to be England that cope best as Jordan has bagged himself nine wickets over the three tests, standing head and shoulders above the rest of the bowlers.

As well as the form of the 25 year old Barbados born Sussex player helping towards a home win in this 4th ODI the weather at Lord’s is expected to be fine for this match causing the pitch to lose pace. If this should happen then, just like in the T20 match between these sides recently and several county cricket matches of late, the score rate late on is likely to drop and leave us with a low scoring match. The advantage from this will only help the bowlers and I foresee another, and third from four matches, star man performance from Jordan to lead England to victory in this ODI series.

Back England to beat Sri Lanka in the 4th ODI match at Lord’s @ 1.69 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Can England beat the Twenty20 world champions at The Oval?

England defeated Sri Lanka at the World T20 tournament, now can they do so again today?

England defeated Sri Lanka at the World T20 tournament, now can they do so again today?

Sri Lanka kick off their tour of England, that will see them play five ODI matches and two tests as well as today’s singular Twenty20 match, at The Oval this evening in a meeting of the two sides that won the World Twenty20 championship and the only side to defeat them in Bangladesh. Sri Lanka scorched to victory at the start of April at the tournament and, despite securing victory against the eventual champions, England’s loss to the Netherlands in the group stage saw them crash out in disgrace.

The last two months have seen big changes for England, with Paul Farbrace moving from Sri Lanka to take over the limited overs side, and after a ODI win over Scotland to their name in their only match following the World T20 competition they will be confident of a second straight win over Sri Lanka today.

England v Sri Lanka Betting Odds:

England Victory – 1.74

Sri Lanka Victory – 1.92

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

England are certainly a side capable of winning this match following their outstanding performance against the Sri Lankan side in Bangladesh that saw them set 190 runs from 20 overs to win. They overcame the long odds going into bat to secure their biggest run chase in Twenty20 history thanks to Alex Hales and today’s England captain Eoin Morgan. Hales became the first ever Englishman to secure a T20 century with 116 and Morgan added another 57 runs to the total as England took victory – their only win in Bangladesh – with four balls to spare.

However, losses to South Africa and the Netherlands, who are not exactly a top cricket nation, saw England return home with their tails between their legs. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, went from strength to strength with 59 run win over New Zealand before eliminating the West Indies at the semi-final stage and then beating India, the top ranked Twenty20 side in the world, by six wickets to claim victory.

They have since lost Paul Farbrace to their hosts in this Twenty20 clash at The Oval tonight, but they have still looked impressive as they played their way around the UK and Ireland since the start of May. They have been scheduled for five matches and although one was washed out against Ireland four of these were ODIs. Their only T20 warm up came against Sussex at Hove on Sunday and after being set 127 to win the match they breezed by the total after just nine overs and a single ball without the loss of a wicket as Kithuruwan Vithanage and Tillakaratne Dilshan scored 52 and 73 respectively to secure victory before the halfway stage of the match.

Despite being the outsiders to win this match Sri Lanka have won both T20 clashes while on tour in England and with their loss to the English in Bangladesh as well as their poaching of coach Farbrace, they will be highly motivated to win at The Oval this evening. I feel that such a difficult match for England has come too soon into the new regime and that they are undeserving of being the favourites. Sri Lanka offer the better value and I am backing the guests to secure victory this evening.

Back Sri Lanka to defeat England in this Twenty20 match at The Oval @ 1.92 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

World T20 Cricket – Can West Indies Cause a Shock?

Will Lasith Malinga be able to deal with the West Indies' strong batting line-up?

Will Lasith Malinga be able to deal with the West Indies’ strong batting line-up?

And then there were four. After nearly three weeks of huge hitting, dropped catches and yet another England humiliation, the ICC World T20 has reached the semi-final stages. The tournament has proved to be highly entertaining so far. There have been upsets, pre-tournament favourites Australia crashed and burned, ludicrous batting as the Dutch obliterated the Irish bowling attack to reach the Super 10s in remarkable fashion, and also some extraordinary death bowling courtesy of Dale Steyn (more on him later). The line-up for the last four promises more great cricket in the next few days.

 

ICC World T20 Betting Odds:

India – 2.77

Sri Lanka – 3.48

West Indies – 4.2

South Africa – 4.95

(All odds at Matchbook.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The first semi-final sees Sri Lanka taking on the West Indies. This looks to be the tighter of the two games and Sri Lanka go into the match as narrow favourites. Both sides have come through must-win final group games and both will be confident following resounding victories in those crunch matches.

This is a repeat of the 2012 final which the West Indies won and I’d back them to upset the odds and beat Sri Lanka again. West Indies showed just how good they are against Pakistan yesterday. Although they got into a bit of a hole with the bat, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo blasted them out of it with some brutal batting. They then showed how good they are with the ball; Pakistan never got a sniff and consistently lost wickets before folding completely. In Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine, they possess the top two highest ranked bowlers in T20, with Badree particularly adept at bowling in the Powerplay overs.

 

Sri Lanka have threats of their own of course, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakarra are both classy and elegant batsmen and will be desperate to end their international T20 careers on a high. Rangana Herath decimated New Zealand last time out and is likely to retain his place in the side after recording figures of 5-3. Then there is their trump card in Lasith Malinga who bowls yorkers with such unerring accuracy. It should be a close game, but I think West Indies will just nick it.

 

The other semi-final sees South Africa taking on the heavily fancied Indians. South Africa have lived a charmed life in this tournament with several narrow wins seeing them qualify from the easier of the two groups. Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir have been their stars with the ball, while AB De Villiers showed what a devastating player he is against England, it is also impossible to forget the talents of JP Duminy and Hashim Amla either. They are very much the outsiders of the final four and with good reason: aside from Steyn and Tahir their bowling attack looks very weak.

India on the other side are a beautifully balanced side and the only team remaining with a 100% record. They have made their way through this tournament without breaking a sweat and are now very strong favourites to lift the title. In Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and M.S. Dhoni they have the firepower to take apart any bowling attack. They also have the bowlers to restrict the opposition too with Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja and Amit Mishra forming a fearsome spin trio. All evidence points to an Indian win and it’s hard to look past them for the semi-final really.

 

So who will win it overall? India are of course very strong and will be most people’s picks to go and win the competition now but I’m sticking with the holders to go on to retain their title. Even though India have already beat them in the group stages, the West Indies are coming into form at the right time and will take some serious stopping.

 

Betting Instinct Tip – West Indies to beat Sri Lanka and score the most sixes is 3.06 with GR88.com

 

liam avatar LIAM McCONVILLE is an avid cricket fan, a hapless village cricketer and a Yorkshireman with an irrational  hatred of Jade Dernbach. He rants about the game he loves at http://www.fortyballduck.blogspot.co.uk/ and  @FortyBallDuck on Twitter.

England favoured to claim the ODI series in West Indies

Ravi Bopara's 38 not out in the Second ODI saw England level the series

Ravi Bopara’s 38 not out in the Second ODI saw England level the series

The three match ODI series between the West Indies and England comes to a close this Wednesday as the two sides look to win the decider at North Sound. Both of the previous two matches have been held at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium too so both of these teams will be very aware of the conditions for the match, but which of the two sides will come out on top after they both claimed a victory in the first two ODI matches.

GR88.com believe that the game will be a close one, but after fine bowling performances from England they see the visitors edging this Third West Indies v England ODI before the T20 matches begin in Sunday.

Third West Indies v England ODI Odds:

West Indies – 1.92

England – 1.74

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

The first ODI between these two sides was played last Friday and looked as if England’s shoddy one day form was continuing from their post-Ashes tour against Australia as they were beaten 4-1 over five games. Things did start well for England too as they had their hosts on the ropes at 45-4 with their top four batsmen all out, however a 65 from Lendl Simmons, 87 not out from Dwayne Bravo and a 61 from Darren Sammy saw the West Indies a target of 270 for England. They fell 15 runs of the 269 total despite a 106 knock from Michael Lumb as the rest of the batting lineup crumbled around the opening batsman.

England did much better in the second one day international as only a 70 from Simmons, again top scoring for the host nation, saw a West Indian batsman score more than 20 runs. The West Indies were bowled out for just 159 as England turned the screw and while no England batsman came close to Simmons’ total the collapse from the first match between the sides did not appear second time around as England cruised to a three wicket victory with more than five overs remaining. Lumb once again top scored for the visitors with 39, while it was Ravi Bopara and Stuart Broad who carried England across the line.

One of the major variables for this Third West Indies v England ODI will be the pitch at North Sound with this major being the third match in less than a week. The pitch had certainly slowed down in the second ODI with it allowing more spin and less bounce, so the sides are going to have a tough time generating runs and I’m expecting a low scoring match between these sides and the bowlers are going to be the difference between the sides. England have the better of the exchanges with the bowlers in the first two matches between the sides, despite their collapse in the first ODI, and I see the odds on this match being correct and, as long as England do not experience another batting collapse, I see England taking victory in this third ODI and winning the series.

Back England to win the Third West Indies v England ODI at North Sound @ 1.74 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

South Africa favoured to win the deciding test match against Australia

Hashim Amla helped South Africa to level the series 1-1 with 127 N.O. in his second innings last week

Hashim Amla helped South Africa to level the series 1-1 with 127 N.O. in his second innings last week

The three match test series between South Africa and Australia comes to a close in Cape Town at the Newlands cricket ground, which is one of the most beautiful locations to play cricket in the world. It is overlooked by Table Mountain and Devils Peak and is the perfect setting to end a test series.

Despite these two sides having faced off on many occasions over the last 20 years this three match series is just the second time that the two teams have needed a decider to separate them. The other series was, in fact, the last series in Australia in 2012-13 and although Australia felt they had done enough in the first two tests they had lost one of those and it was the Proteas who ran riot in the decider to claim the series.

GR88.com do not believe that the hosts in this Third South Africa v Australia Test will run riot this time, but they do favour a home win in Cape Town this week as follows.

South Africa v Australia – Final Test Odds:

South Africa – 2.02

Draw – 3.40

Australia – 2.74

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

The first test saw an overwhelming victory for Australia as they chose to bat first against their hosts and after sitting on 24-2 and 98-4 they posted an impressive 397 all out in the first innings. This was possible thanks to a century from Steve Smith and a series high score of 148 from Shaun Marsh but as these two fell within five overs of each other saw a collapse from 331-5 to 397. The hosts fell short as they replied with their first innings and only AB de Villiers’ 91 saved them from utter embarrassment as they recorded 206 all out.

The second innings saw Australia declare on 290-4, with David Warner hammering 115 from 151 balls, and then they removed the hosts for 200, with de Villiers again top scoring with 48, to claim a 281 run victory.

However, the second test in Port Elizabeth saw a complete turnaround as South Africa batted first and scored a massive 423 all out in their first innings. It was that man again, AB de Villiers, who helped them on their way with 116 before being caught and bowled by Nathan Lyon but he was not the top scorer this time around as JP Duminy knocked for 123. Australia replied well with 246 as Warner hit 70 and Smith fell one run short of his half century, but they were in trouble and needed a big second innings from their bowlers.

For the most part they got it too as they claimed five wickets before South Africa declared and all five players out scored less than 35. However, Hashim Amla was on form and hit 127 not out to see South Africa to 270. The run chase for the visitors started well as Chris Rodgers and Warner put on a pairing of 126 before Warner walked at 70 for an lbw and although Rodgers hung in to score 107 no other Australian players scored above six as they were beaten by 231 runs.

South Africa have the momentum for this third, and final, test match and certainly deserve to be the favourites. However, this can easily change if Australia bat first and the side doing the run chase at the end of this match is expected to have a tough time as the pitch cuts up. Whoever gets in first deserves to be the favourite to win this match, but with this not being withstanding it is Hashim Amla who is likely to make the difference in this final test as he has five test centuries against Australia since the end of 2011 and his 127 not out last time around shows he’s back in form. This should give the hosts the edge and they’re my pick in Cape Town in this final test.

Back South Africa to win the final test, and the series, against Australia @ 2.02 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Will India end their tour of New Zealand with a first victory?

New Zealand caption Brendon McCullum on his way to scoring 224 in the first test match

New Zealand caption Brendon McCullum on his way to scoring 224 in the first test match

The second test match between New Zealand and India begins this evening and both sides will be desperate to secure victory in the final match of this tour. New Zealand can whitewash their guests if they avoid defeat after beating the Indians 4-0 in the five match ODI series before upsetting the odds, and the weather, to record a 40 run win in the first test match in Auckland, while India will want to finish the tour with at least one victory in seven matches.

India did show promise and improvement in the first test as they bowled their hosts out for 105 in the second innings as they finally found their form, but can they continue this into the New Zealand v India – 2nd Test Match? GR88.com do not believe so as they favour another victory for the hosts this weekend.

New Zealand v India – 2nd Test Match Betting Odds:

New Zealand to win – 2.40

Draw – 2.88

India to win – 2.54

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

New Zealand were impressive with the ball in the first test match between themselves and India, especially in the first innings where they restricted the visitors to just 202 runs – and it was Rohit Sharma who claimed 72 of those – and despite falling away in the second innings, as they reeled from a devastating 105 all out performance with the bat, they managed to get themselves over the line with 40 runs to spare. Following wins in their final two tests against the West Indies the Black Caps have now won three tests in a row and equal their record of four successive wins in this test match. However, they are missing Ross Taylor, who is one of the top batsmen despite scoring just 44 in his two innings last time around, due to the birth of his child but if captain Brendon McCullum can manage to equal his 224 from the first innings then there is a great chance of equalling this test victory record.

India cannot now win either the ODI series or the test series thanks to their batsmen letting them down at the death as they slipped from 221-2 to 366 all out, falling just 40 runs short. They have played better than they did in their last two away tours in England and South Africa, but with them letting victory slip away once again they will begin to question if they can actually return to winning ways outside of their own borders. They have been close to New Zealand throughout the tour, but they lag just behind their hosts in both the batting and bowling stakes, but they’ll have to hope that the fear of going home empty handed will be a good enough motivator for this match.

Unlike the first test match between these sides where there was plenty of rain forecast, although it did not ultimately prevent the hosts getting into a rhythm and winning the match much to my chagrin, this second test is promised to without interruptions from the weather gods. This is likely to aid a New Zealand side who enjoy playing in Wellington and this pitch is the same as when The Black Caps won by an innings and 73 runs against the Windies in mid-December. As a result of this, coupled with the below average performances shown by the visitors on this tour, my money is on New Zealand to round out the tour with their sixth win in seven matches and claim the test series 2-0.

Back New Zealand to beat India in Wellington and claim a 2-0 victory in the Test Series @ 2.40 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Can India bounce back in the Test series against New Zealand?

New Zealand will bring massive confidence into the test series after a 4-0 win in the ODI series

New Zealand will bring massive confidence into the test series after a 4-0 win in the ODI series

India’s tour of New Zealand has not exactly gone to plan as MS Dhoni’s side, who were the number one side in one day cricket prior to this tour, were beaten 4-0 in the five game ODI series. Today sees the start of the two match test series with the sides clashing in Auckland, but will we see the hosts continue their excellent one day form into the five day game or will India strike back and banish the memories of the ODI series?

It is the opinion of GR88.com that neither of these will happen as they are favouring the draw in this 1st New Zealand v India test match and the reason for this is that the weekend weather forecast is not looking conductive for cricket. There are showers forecast for Friday, Saturday and Sunday so will we get enough time for either side to assert themselves and take victory in Auckland?

New Zealand v India – 1st Test Betting Odds:

New Zealand to win – 3.10

Draw – 1.79

India to win – 3.70

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change).

Should the weather remain clement enough to for us to get a cricket match then it is New Zealand that are favoured to continue their fine form against the Indians and they will feel that this is a great chance to boost their current home test record. They have won just three test matches in New Zealand since the start of 2011, beating the West Indies twice and Zimbabwe once, and with their bowlers showing in the ODI series that they have the edge over their Indian counterparts I feel that the betting odds for this match are correct and that, assuming we get enough game time, that New Zealand will win this match.

While New Zealand’s home test record is poor, India’s test history away from home is even worse. They are without a win in any of their last 12 away test matches and with them struggling in their strongest form of the game already this year this 1st New Zealand v India test could present further problems for them. However, with this match lasting much longer than the ODI version of the game the Indian batsmen, who struggled in the one day matches, will know that they will not be under so much pressure to attack the ball and this may help them towards victory in this game.

However, I feel that a combination of poor bowling from India and the poor weather expected for this weekend will cause India all kinds of trouble for this match. New Zealand certainly have batsmen good enough to take advantage of any slippage in performance from the bowlers in Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, but any advantage they can gain will be cut short by the constant weather delays. New Zealand are the slight favourites to win the match in my book and I feel that they are overpriced to win this match, but with the poor weather forecast to ruin a promising cricket match my money is on India’s away test match woes continuing and this match ending as a draw.

Back the 1st New Zealand v India test match to end as a draw @ 1.79 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Twenty20 Preview: England’s last chance to salvage some pride

Eoin Morgan is one of a handful of England players to emerge from the ODIs with any credit

Eoin Morgan is one of a handful of England players to emerge from the ODIs with any credit

Finally the torment is almost over. A tour that has yielded just one victory so far over Australia is almost at an end. After a Test series that for the most part resembled Drederick Tatum v Homer Simpson, and a One Day Series where England looked like they’d forgotten how to win; England embark on the final part of this mammoth tour, a three match Twenty20 series which has plenty riding on it.

Not only is it a chance to finally beat Australia in a series and add a touch of dignity to a tour which will surely go down as one of the worst in living memory, this series also provides both teams with a chance to build for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh which is just two months away.

Twenty20 World Cup Betting Odds

India – 4.50

Australia – 6.00

South Africa – 6.50

Pakistan – 7.00

Sri Lanka – 7.00

West Indies – 7.00

England – 8.00

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Due to the ridiculous nature of international cricket scheduling (Australia tour South Africa next month); the hosts have made several changes to their squad. Several senior players have been rested including Shane Watson and David Warner, but the team still looks fairly strong.

George Bailey has proven himself to be both an accomplished leader and batsman in the shorter formats of the game. Glenn Maxwell may well be a filthy slogger but he is very good at what he does and England will be fearful of the ‘The Big Show’ teeing off. There’s also Aaron Finch who decimated the England attack with a brutal 156 off just 63 balls in the first T20 against England back in August.

 

England’s squad generally looks quite youthful and shows continuity as they build to the World Cup. They will be led by Stuart Broad who can enjoy his customary raucous welcome from the Australian fans. Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan will be looking to carry on their form from the ODIs as England’s two most destructive batsmen. After excelling throughout the tour, Ben Stokes is also part of the squad and is remarkably still showing no signs of struggling with the demands of international cricket. There’s also aggressive opener Alex Hales who is one of three members of the England squad who have been involved in Australia’s Twenty20 Big Bash League this winter.

England’s bowling will be a bit of a worry with Australia’s super aggressive approach under coach Darren Lehmann. There’s plenty of experience in the seam attack with Broad and Tim Bresnan, however England are weak in the spin department. Bowling spin for England has not been a fun experience on this tour. Every English spinner has been targeted and duly despatched and this is almost certain to continue in this series.

 

If the earlier series in England is anything to go by, these games should be high-scoring. Australia will be confident of continuing their success and start the series as heavy favourites. However their squad isn’t as strong as the one that drew 1-1 with England in August and I would expect this series to be quite tight.

If England can break the shackles, they have every chance of winning. They have the experience and the quality to turn over this Australia side. What remains to be seen is whether they can overcome the mental scarring that this nightmarish tour has indelibly left on English cricket.

 

England need to learn to win again, with the Twenty20 World Cup just around the corner; now would be a good time to start.

 

liam avatarLIAM McCONVILLE is an avid cricket fan, a hapless village cricketer and a Yorkshireman with an irrational hatred of Jade Dernbach. He rants about the game he loves at http://www.fortyballduck.blogspot.co.uk/ and @FortyBallDuck on Twitter.