Bet of the Day: England to comfortably beat Afghanistan in World Cup

14th September 2021

The hosts, and tournament favourites, find themselves up against the tournament’s lowest-ranked team as the World Cup returns to Manchester. As long as the rain can hold off – always a big if in this city – it will be an interesting encounter between a host side that has rebounded from defeat against Pakistan and an underdog that likes to play attacking cricket, and which will have the support of plenty of neutrals.

Afghanistan have lost all four of their outings so far, only breaking 200 runs once, while the hosts have perhaps the strongest lineup in the competition. Eoin Morgan and co. also accumulated the tournament’s highest run total so far, hammering Bangladesh’s attack for 386 runs. If the favourites get to bat first here, they will be looking to match or better that tally, but they’ll need to be constantly vigilant against a bowling attack which can utilise spin impressively – veteran off-breaker Mohammad Nabi posted a career-best 4-30 when his side lost on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method to Sri Lanka.

Disruption to England’s batting order

Although England remain tournament favourites, nobody said they would have a straightforward run to the final here – and with the news that opener Jason Roy will miss this and the following ODI against Sri Lanka, there will have to be some reshuffling of the side. Against the West Indies, Roy’s place in the batting order was assumed by Joe Root, who knocked off a confident 100 not out. An injury to Morgan meant England had only nine fit batsmen, but the Windies’ lowly total of 212 meant they only needed to use four. Morgan should return for this match, with James Vince pencilled in to open the batting alongside Jonny Bairstow.

Root’s impressive knock as an opener put him out in front as the hosts’ highest scorer in the competition so far, and he contributed with the ball as well, his change of pace snagging a pair of key wickets in the West Indian middle-order. That versatility may well be put to use against an Afghanistan batting order that will expect to face searing pace from Jofra Archer and co. With Root in fine form, and Roy off the scene, it’s not hard to see the captain securing the Man of the Match award. Another three-figure total here for the Yorkshireman is far from off the cards, whether he opens or comes in at three, so Coral’s 6/1 on Root for MotM is a smart bet.

Much depends on the coin toss

For the neutral, matches between sides in cricket’s top echelon and opponents from a lower level can either be hugely entertaining or a massive anti-climax. If the big names get to bat first, they can often run up a big total by picking off the less-hardened bowling attack of their opposition; it’s not exactly gallant, but it can be fun to watch. However, if the weaker side gets in first, they can all too often be skittled for a minuscule total that is rapidly eclipsed by the superstars. No-one wants to see a mismatch that’s over by 3pm. In this case, a mismatch that goes on for a little longer is what the fans want.

It’s hard, without knowing who will bat first, to predict anything about the scores in this match. Will any England batsman put on a century? Maybe – but they might not get a chance if their opponents bat first and are all out for 73. What we can say is that in all probability, all of the Afghanistan team will get the chance to bat. This makes Unibet’s market for wicket takers an interesting option for bettors. Will Jofra Archer get more batsmen out than his pace partner Mark Wood? According to Unibet’s 8/11 odds, he most likely will – but if you fancy Wood to have a big day with the ball, then you can back him to outperform Archer at 21/20.

A comfortable win for England, either way

Whether England bat first and can put together a big score, or set themselves a run chase and then match it, it’s hard to see any outcome other than a win for the favourites here. Albeit that Afghanistan are sure to give it a go, they currently lack the squad to pose a significant challenge to teams at this level – as their totals against South Africa (125) and Australia (152) show. Against England, they’re unlikely to accumulate much more than that, but they’ll probably go down swinging (literally), and that will be worth watching.

One thing we can be relatively sure of is that England will knock the ball around themselves, whether they bat first or second, and we can expect at least twenty overs of hitting from the home side. Betway have a market on how many runs each side will accumulate in the first fifteen, and with the over/under set at 88.5, you’ll get 4/5 on Root, Bairstow and co. exceeding that mark. All they need to do is score at six an over to bypass that total, and given their speedy accumulation of runs in most matches so far they should be a good bet to achieve that mark.

Bets of the Day

England to score >88.5 in the first 15 overs (Betway, 4/5); Joe Root Man of the Match (Coral, 6/1); Jofra Archer to take more wickets than Mark Wood (Unibet, 8/11)

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