The first One Day International on Wednesday was not the boundary-crashing affair many expected. England still won but it was an afternoon of batting errors and excellent bowling performances.
Australia’s batting, perhaps unsurprisingly, stuttered in the absence of David Warner and Steve Smith. Liam Plunkett’s accuracy earned him three wickets, Moeen Ali picked up three as well, while inexperience, and a simple lack of quality, saw the tourists compile a sub-par score.
England followed with an attempt to embarrass themselves again. The hosts only won by three wickets after a couple of mini-collapses, even with good knocks from skipper Eoin Morgan and Joe Root.
The second match in the series takes us to Cardiff. A ground where spin has often been key, which leaves this Australian batting line-up vulnerable to Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali again.
Rashid is a great price at 3/1 to be England’s top bowler. The leg spinner gave away a mere 36 runs in his 10 overs at the Kia Oval, and along with Moeen, will have a vital role to play taking wickets in the middle overs and reducing the scoring.
Australia had no such luck slowing England’s scoring. The control of 6’7” opening bowler Billy Stanlake rattled England’s top order, as he notched 39 dot balls in his 10 overs. Stanlake was an unknown quantity coming into this series but is in at 13/4 to be Australia’s top bowler in Cardiff.
Turning to the batting, Australia had no trouble getting in. Six players scored 19 or more, but only one went on to make a fifty. That’s not exactly a winning formula in ODI cricket.
Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Agar somewhat rescued the innings, but the 11/2 on Maxwell to be Australia’s top batsman is still a little short for my liking.
The pick in that market has to be the favourite, Aaron Finch. He has the ability to destroy a bowling attack during the powerplay and could take the match away from England if he can remain at the crease and negotiate the spinners. At 11/4, Finch is well worth backing.
England’s batting is tougher to call. Jonny Bairstow’s streak of centuries came to an end at the Oval, but the Yorkshireman remained in good touch for his 23-ball 28. Bairstow is the favourite for top English batsman at 13/4.
The best value, though, is Eoin Morgan at 9/2. The Middlesex man needed a score, and he duly delivered in the opening match of this series.
Morgan is a streaky player, if he can begin one of those purple patches against this indifferent Australian attack, he is not only a good price, he’s a match-winner.
Once again, England are heavy favourites. The batting frailties at the Oval are certainly cause for concern, but the depth in the order makes them such a hard side to beat. The 7/10 to hit more fours than Australia is good value, particularly if England get the chance to bat first.
England are 13/25 to win this one. That price is a little short, even with England’s superiority. Australia still have match-winning talents, who make 6/4 a decent price.
TIP: Australia to score most in the first 15 overs @ 6/5
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*