Home comforts point to Indian World Cup glory

JUST OVER a month ago and England were joint-favourites with some layers for the World Cup. They are now out to 17/2 with Victor Chandler and bookies will happily take your money. Lifting the World Twenty20, their maiden international trophy, last year and their rousing Ashes victory in the winter are fading memories after the one day walloping Down Under.

While there are some legitimate excuses for the series defeat – fatigue and anti-climax chief among them – a 6-1 scoreline is damning no matter the circumstances. A rash of injuries have hardly helped England’s cause and, even at long prices, I can’t get excited about their prospects. They should progress to the knockout stages, with India, South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands for company in the pool phase, but I won’t be buying their Group B index at 35 with Sporting Index which requires a top-two finish to profit.

It’s unlikely to be England, but this pot should contain the eventual champions. There’s no denying South Africa’s strength, especially with the bat, and they are decent value at Victor Chandler’s 5/1. Runs will flow from skipper Graeme Smith and fellow opener Hashim Amla, the highest ODI scorer in 2010, just as they will from the blades of Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers. However, The Proteas stand accused of bottling previous World Cup chances and they must rip off their ‘chokers’ label.

India are as short as 11/4 with Victor Chandler, but they deserve their place at the head of the market. They co-host alongside Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, with the final in Mumbai, and a partisan following can help the 1983 winners become only the second side to triumph on home soil, after Sri Lanka in 1996.

They too will score runs in favourable conditions, as they proved when notching 360/5 in Wednesday’s warm-up against New Zealand. India have rotated their squad while playing a lot of 50-over cricket in the past year, but with the big guns returning they look the pick in what should be Sachin Tendulkar’s final World Cup. No man can match his 1,796 competition runs and a winner’s medal for the Little Master would be a fitting accompaniment to his plethora of records.

I also expect Bangladesh to go well. With West Indies looking vulnerable in Group B, they can spring a surprise and at 11/8 stand a good chance of reaching the second round.

The Tigers boast the ICC’s number one-ranked all-rounder in Shakib Al Hasan, and Tamim Iqbal, the young batsman who can cause trouble for anyone. Bigger teams will rest players during the six-match group stage, but Iqbal can expect plenty of action. He’s prime candidate at 5/2 to be top Bangladeshi batsman.

Sporting Index quote Bangladesh’s outright index at 7-9, a price that should tempt buyers who would see a return on any advancement beyond the opening section.

Sri Lanka have a live chance and there are worse choices than the 9/2 second-favourites on Betdaq. They will undoubtedly have their backers, as will the side at the top of the ICC ODI rankings, Australia, at 5/1 with Victor Chandler. Shane Watson will take the game to opponents, while Brett Lee and their pace attack strike fear, but they could be hamstrung without the quality spin to match.

POINTERS...
India to win the World Cup at 3/1 general
Buy Bangladesh’s outright index at 9 with
Sporting Index

CHELSEA vs EVERTON
Tomorrow – 12.30pm ESPN

THE signings of Fernando Torres and David Luiz have hardly had the immediate effect that Carlo Ancelotti would have been looking for.

A disappointing 1-0 defeat at home by Liverpool was followed by an equally disappointing goalless draw at Craven Cottage on Monday night. There is a lack of shape to the side and they just aren’t posing a threat going forward.

Everton are in the midst of their own run of poor form which resulted in David Moyes describing the performance at Bolton on Sunday as the worst under his stewardship. The Toffees have won just one of their last six games across all competitions and are only three points above the relegation zone.

There isn’t much for Everton to play for now this season and a decent FA Cup run can at least bring some solace. They actually have a decent record against Chelsea of late, drawing four and winning one of the last five league meetings. They have also drawn the last five league contests at Stamford Bridge and their only defeat there in the past five seasons came in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi final in 2007/08.

I can’t see this one being a thriller as both sides are likely to be nervous. Chelsea are 4/7 with Victor Chandler, but that’s too short for me for a side struggling with their confidence. I’d much rather back the stalemate at 3/1 with the same firm and it would be no surprise to see this game go to penalties.

The first match between the sides at Goodison Park finished 1-1 and I fancy a repeat of that scoreline at 7/1 on Betdaq. It becomes a lottery when you get to extra-time and penalties, although I’d probably fancy the home side to come out on top in the end. Spread punters are advised to sell goals at 2.65 with Sporting Index.

POINTERS...
Draw at 3/1 with Victor Chandler
1-1 at 7/1 on Betdaq
Sell total goals at 2.65 with Sporting Index

BEHIND THE LINES

The ICC Cricket World Cup starts tomorrow morning and if England win the trophy we’ll refund all losing stakes on the outright winner as a free bet. Strauss’s men peaked during the Ashes and their subsequent 6-1 defeat by Australia in the ODI’s means we want to take them on.

It’s an open looking tournament and although India were beaten in South Africa recently, we definitely want to keep them on our side. This is the tournament they desperately want to win and it could be the perfect ending to Sachin Tendulkar’s wonderful career.

With Fernando Torres cup-tied, and Chelsea not having scored in their last two league games, we can see Everton being on the receiving end of a backlash at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup replay tomorrow.

The Toffees have conceded two or more goals in five of their last six games and we expect plenty of interest in the 4/7 about a Chelsea win.