It’s early days in the competition but, following some impressive Sportsbook performances, it may seem fair to assume that both India and Australia will feature in the knockout stages of the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
The Aussies are two from two while India opened its campaign with a comfortable victory over a struggling South African side. On Sunday, the two teams meet in what should be the biggest encounter of the tournament so far but which way will the points go?
The sportsbooks show a tight market and that reflects our view that we’re in for a close thriller at The Oval. India is slightly ahead at odds of -125 while Australia is at +100.
Not only are the 2019 Aussies a talented bunch, they proved their strength in depth by recovering from 79/5 to beat the West Indies on Thursday. The title looks to be a three-way fight between these two teams plus England but before we get to that stage, where will Sunday’s game be won and lost?
Much has been said about Nathan Coulter-Nile and Alex Carey rebuilding the Australian innings but the media seems to have forgotten the role played by Steve Smith. The former captain made a patient 73 from 103 balls to steady things and allow the Aussies to recover and make a winning total of 288 all out.
The conclusion is that both Smith and David Warner need to be dismissed cheaply for any side to overcome this Australian unit. They have that batting depth as Carey and Coulter-Nile proved but the two batsmen returning from their international bans are pivotal to that success.
The batting theme continues as we turn to India, which possesses what many feel to be the best top three in the tournament. Rohit Sharma hit the ground running with India’s first century of the World Cup and we expect skipper Virat Kohli to step up and take responsibility in this game.
We’ve highlighted the strengths of these two sides and the winning team will be the one that produces the most effective bowlers to combat world-class batting. For India, we’re backing Kuldeep Yadav to respond with his mystery spin and return best bowling figures.
Sadly for Indian fans, that may not be enough to win the game. Mitchell Starc was the leading wicket taker at the 2015 World Cup and his five-wicket haul against the West Indies suggests he’s fit again and saving his best form for the biggest stage.
We haven’t changed our opinion that India is the team to beat as far as the outright tournament win is concerned. However, this is a tough fixture for the 2011 champions so early in the competition. Australia has enjoyed a little more time to capture form and momentum and we’re backing the Aussies to edge the points on this occasion.