Despite the helter-skelter nature of Twenty20, one can usually rely on statistics to ensure that a wager emerges from a pack of eight sides who can expect to go close to glory, and the third edition of this tournament is no different.
South Africa are third favourites and at 7.2 they represent solid value. They impressed greatly on their tour of England yet it is consistency which is the most important factor. With a win percentage of 69 in the last two years, they are the comfortably the most reliable.
The balance South Africa have also inspires confidence. AB De Villiers, Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla can score quick runs up top, Albie Morkel can blast big numbers in the middle while with the ball the canny limited-overs pace bowling of Dale Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe is also a comfort.
Spin will also be key in Sri Lanka and in Johan Botha they have a player who has vast IPL experience behind him and, of course, knowledge of sub-continental going.
Of course, there is always the worry that South Africa are yet to win a major ICC tournament. This has been attributed to 'choking' in the past. They may well come up short of breath again, but by that time they will be much skinnier in the betting.
With the top two in four groups progressing to a Super Eight stage, it can be a confusing competition to get one's head around. But if we use the win percentages as our guide the two Super Eight sections (the top two in each go through to the semi-fionals) should look as follows:
Group 1: South Africa (69%), England (62), Pakistan (44), Australia (38).
Group 2: Sri Lanka (62), New Zealand (62), West Indies (50), India (44).
Sri Lanka, the hosts, have to be respected with home advantage and a healthy win percentage. They should go deep into the business end. Certainly they are better value at 6.40 than India at 6.0. The inaugural winners have a disappoiting recent record despite a stellar line-up.
England will find it mighty tough to defend their crown minus Kevin Pietersen and are ones to swerve at 10.0 while Australia are another shocking price at 7.2.
Back South Africa to win World Twenty20 @ 7.2
England seemed to come from nowhere to win the gong last time out. But once the competition was underway in the West Indies, it was apparaent that they had the look and feel of champions, which was why we got on them at the Super Eight stage.
New Zealand could spring a shock. At 21.0, their recent form has not been taken into account and in Martin Guptill they have the highest runscorer in the last 12 months. Daniel Vettori, Ross Taylor and the McCullum brothers know the format and the conditions thanks to IPL.
We would like to get with the West Indies, too. Alas, punters have recognised they have a superb-looking squad. Rather like South Africa the Windies can do it all, especially now Chris Gayle has returned. But 7.6 is just too short.
As for the minnows, Bangladesh might cause an upset against Pakistan but Ireland, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe are making up the numbers.
Back-to-lay New Zealand @ 21.0
Only opening batsmen need apply, historically and statistically. Guptill has a great shout here at a whopping 75.0. Mahela Jaywardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan are both overpriced at 18.0 and 20.0 respectively and look likely to form the opening combo for the home nation. Dilshan, of course, has form in this competition. Gayle is 7.4 and one of the jollies while Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir will also be well-supported.
Back M Guptill @ 75.0
Back M Jayawardene @ 18.0
The highest four wicket-takers in the last two years are all spinners. Three of the first four top wicket-takers in Asia are spinners. So we should turn to, er, turn for this market. Saeed Ajmal tops both lists and is priced at 12.5. He also has the best strike rate (16.5) over the same study period. A no-brainer, really.
Back Saeed Ajmal top tournament bowler @ 12.5
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