Ruthless England ready to dominate lacklustre Indian attack
Pre-tournament favourites India have much to improve on ahead of Sunday’s clash with England after Group A’s opening games proved a tale of two contrasting performances against a spirited yet inferior Afghanistan side.
Playing in their first ever World Cup, Afghanistan were made to look dangerous at times on Wednesday as they restricted a fancied Indian side to just 159 in their 20 overs. If not for some sloppy fielding that included four dropped catches, the Indians could well have been embarrassed, eventually seeing off their opposition by bowling them out for 136.
England, on the other hand, were ruthless, efficient and impressive, making the very same side look like the inexperienced novices that they are.
In contrast to India, their batting was assured – Luke Wright hitting an imperious 99 not out as England powered to 196-5 – and their bowling sharp, with Afghanistan ending their first ever tournament with a 116-run defeat, bowled out for 80 in just 17.2 overs.
The difference in performance couldn’t have been more striking, and it was no surprise to see Sri Lanka – who began their campaign with a comfortable 82-run victory over Zimbabwe – overtake India as tournament favs (at 4/1, India 5/1).
For the same reasons, England are 8/11 to beat India on Sunday and claim top spot in Group A. Stuart Broad’s men will know not to get too excited about a sound victory over cricket’s newbies, but will be reassured by the performances in their top order, especially the ability to knock over such an impressive total despite opener Craig Kieswetter failing with a duck.
In particular Luke Wright looked in great nick, with 99 from 55 balls, and the Sussex man is a tempting 16/1 to claim the Man of the Match award again on Sunday.
India’s openers, however, both struggled under the cosh during an excellent spell for Afghanistan’s Shapoor Zadran, with the left-arm pacer first snaffling Gautam Gambhir – bowled off an inside edge for just ten – and then Virender Sehwag, caught behind for eight.
It means England wicket-takers Dernbach, Broad and Finn will fancy their chances of adding to their woes – indeed Finn at 13/8 is a great price to take more wickets than his Indian counterpart Zahir Khan (11/8), with the 33-year-old looking increasingly pedestrian – with figures of 0-32 at ten runs an over – in an ordinary-looking Indian attack.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing