The second match of the Cricket World Cup on Saturday sees Taunton making its bow in the tournament when it plays host to one of the two sides on four points heading into the day in New Zealand. They go up against Afghanistan looking to maintain their 100% record.
Afghanistan have not been disgraced in the competition thus far but losing to Sri Lanka in their previous match was a bitter blow. New Zealand rode their luck against Bangladesh but you can live with that when you win.
As always in this tournament, Kev and Steve are back to look forward to the Taunton opener. They provide insight into the wicket in the West-country as well as look at what we can expect from the match. Kev’s bets are discussed in detail too. Hit play to listen!
I don’t think I was alone in having high hopes for Afghanistan heading into their match against Sri Lanka and for 30 overs or so they showed exactly why when they restricted their Asian foes to a score which was gettable but the rain that was around just juiced the wicket up and that added to the pressure of being expected to chase a meagre total down seems to restrict them more than was expected.
That was probably their biggest chance of success in this tournament going out of the window but they have a set of skilful players and if they can free their minds and four or five of them come off in the same game, they might yet put the wind up a team even if they don’t go on and beat them. The downside is they can go the other way and if not enough of their key men perform they could be soundly beaten.
I think you would be fibbing a little if you said everything had been perfect for New Zealand in the tournament but at the same time you could probably argue with some justification that they have been the most impressive side so far. They have certainly been the best team in the field. They have shone in that discipline and they have bowled extremely well too and ultimately that can be where matches are won and lost.
Their batting is a little harder to judge positively though. They looked very good in their first match against Sri Lanka but in the second one they certainly didn’t impress as much. Whether it was the fact their middle order never got a bat in that first game I’m not sure but whatever it was there were periods of concern for sure and something for them to work on.
Afghanistan wicket-keeper and opening batsman Mohammad Shahzad has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament so Ikram Alikhil will deputise for him. Aftab Alam could come in too if Afghanistan don’t want to play three spinners.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has suggested that Tim Southee is close to a return to fitness but Matt Henry is the leading wicket taker in the tournament so there is no way in for him. There has been a clamour for Ish Sodhi to come in but that is unlikely on a tiny ground against an Asian side.
I’m going with a few bets for this match with the first of them being under 550.5 runs. This is perceived as a high scoring ground, and later in the tournament it might well be but the wicket will have been under cover throughout Friday and the early part of Saturday and also Afghanistan are unlikely to pile on the runs. Sri Lanka made 136 against New Zealand and Bangladesh 244 so Afghanistan making 250 is unlikely let alone 275. I’m not convinced New Zealand will rack up the runs if they bat first against this Afghan spin attack so even though this is a small ground I don’t see 550 runs being scored here.
Although I’m not expecting the runs to be covered I’m not expecting wickets to fall, or certainly not 16.5 of them anyway. I think we should allow for 10 Afghanistan wickets but there is no guarantee that New Zealand lose more than six whichever innings they bat in. If they are chasing a low total they will pace it accordingly and if they are batting first they don’t really take many risks after their front two. I think this line is a touch too high so I’m happy to be on the under accordingly.
The few runs I do think will be scored can come in the first 10 overs for New Zealand where their line for that period of time is 56.5. That is a risky line for the bookies I have to say. They made 77/0 against Sri Lanka and 55/2 against Bangladesh when they lost a wicket in the final over of the powerplay when they were on course to go beyond 56.5. On the other side of the line, Australia were 55/0 with just one off the tenth over against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka were 79/0. Guptill and Munro get on with it and get it hit and I expect New Zealand to be at least a run a ball for the opening 10 overs.
Finally I’ll take the chance that Najibullah Zadran top scores for Afghanistan once again. He has looked the pick of the Afghan batsmen by far in this tournament and there is even suggestions that he could move up to number four for this match which would make the 10/1 on him immediately good value. It isn’t a huge problem if he bats at six though as it would keep him away from Boult and Henry for much of his innings. He has 51 and 43 in this tournament and 104* and 60* in ODIs against Ireland this year so he’s in good form. He scored 50+ in the World Cup against New Zealand four years ago which was a top scoring effort and the way he is hitting the ball he looks a great bet here.
WON – Back Under 550.5 runs for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Betway
Back New Zealand 1st 10 Overs – Over 56.5 runs for a 5/10 stake at 1.85 with Betway
WON – Back Under 16.5 wickets for a 4/10 stake at 1.85 with 888sport
Back N.Zadran Top Afghanistan Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 11.00 with Coral