The ICC Champions Trophy looks like a fascinating tournament this time around with any number of countries in with a shout of winning – apart from Australia!
Group A tips: Don't back the Aussies!
The Aussies don’t have any real depth in either their batting or bowling attacks and I was surprised to see Unibet had them as one of their favourites to lift the ICC Champions Trophy when the betting opened. And it seems Unibet’s customers agree with me because Australia have been drifting in the betting for a few days now and are as big as 5/1 to win it at time of writing.
Let’s not forget that Australia have not only the small matter of a well-supported England side in their group, but also a Sri Lanka side boasting the likes of Sangakkara, Dilshan and Jayawardene (all 7/2 with Unibet to be top Sri Lanka batsman during the tournament) who are all capable of posting big scores.
New Zealand are the fourth side in Group A and despite being Unibet’s outsiders for the group they are more than capable of a strong showing. They have just demonstrated that by beating England 2-1, while they also won 2-1 in South Africa last year. The Black Caps could easily be the surprise package in this group.
I expect England to take an early psychological edge by beating Australia on Saturday, but that’s one of the few games that I have a strong opinion on in this group.
Group B tips - Prepare for Asian dominance
Group B has an altogether different feel about it as I believe Pakistan and India will progress through to the latter stages at the expense of the West Indies and South Africa. Just like with Australia, I couldn’t believe that Unibet had the Proteas in as second favourites for the competition. But they too have drifted in the betting over the last few days, and my friends at Unibet tell me they have not seen much money for them winning the trophy at all.
West Indies have a chance as they have one or two very big hitters in their ranks – notably Chris Gayle who is 12/5 to be the highest scoring player in the West Indies team during the tournament. He’s also the 12/1 third favourite to be the ICC Champions Trophy top run scorer, which could be worth a punt. But that market really does depend on how far your team progresses, so if the West Indies don’t make it through the Group stage – which is a strong possibility – you can say goodbye to him topping that particular list.
Top Batsman tips - Captain Cook set to sail?
I also think that Alastair Cook is a little short in the betting to score more runs than any other player at 10/1. If I was having a bet on this market it would be on India’s Virat Kohli at 12/1. He is more than capable of putting a decent innings together and his side could go well in the tournament so he may have more chances to pile on the runs.
Unibet have a comprehensive array of betting opportunities around the ICC Champions Trophy. You can bet on the top performing bowler and batsman from each of the eight teams competing. I expect the wickets to take spin over the next few days and so I like the look of Graeme Swan to take most wickets for England during the tournament at a tasty 4/1.
Outright tip - Back Pakistan
My tip for tournament winner is Pakistan, a team that has been performing well of late. If they beat West Indies in their first match I can see the Men in Green going all the way and lifting their very first ICC Champions Trophy.
Bet on a glorious Summer of Sport in 2013 with Sir Ian Botham and Unibet.