Wednesday’s first semi final of this year’s Champions Trophy puts the pre-tournament favourites up against a side who were not expected to make it out of the groups. Pakistan started badly with a big defeat against India but since then have shown great resilience with two straight victories over South Africa and Sri Lanka.
England, meanwhile, have been strong throughout apart from an early wobble against Australia so is this an easy game to call?
The bookmakers seem confident enough that England will progress to Sunday’s final and have made Eoin Morgan’s men favourites at best odds of 1.40 with Betfair. Pakistan follow on at 3.25 with Betway so what chance is there of an upset?
The most impressive display from Pakistan came against the Sri Lankans when qualification was on the line. Chasing a modest total of 236, they seemed out of it at 137-6 and 162-7 and showed great fight in getting over the line.
On their day, Pakistan are capable of beating anyone but memories of a 4-1 series defeat in England last year, coupled with good form from the hosts suggest that Morgan’s team should take the result.
England 1.40 (Betfair – Editor’s Pick), Pakistan 3.25 (Betway).
Joe Root top scored in both of England’s opening matches against Bangladesh and New Zealand and he starts as favourite in this semi at 3.60 with Betfair. Alex Hales also made two half centuries in those games so has to be an option at best odds of 4.33 with Bet365 while Eoin Morgan follows at a top price of 5.50 with Bet365 and Betfair.
England are set to keep faith with Jason Roy who is a 6.00 shot with Bet365 while the value comes from Ben Stokes at 6.50 with Bet365 and Jos Buttler at an excellent best price of 11.00 with Betfair. Of those names, we expect Root to shine again but what about Pakistan?
Babar Azam starts things off here at 4.33 with Bet365 while Azhar Ali follows at best odds of 4.50 with Bet365 and Betfair. Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez are both at 5.50 with Bet365 while Captain and hero from the run chase against Sri Lanka, Sarfraz Ahmed, is the value pick at 9.50 with Betfair. The experience of Hafeez may be vital on Wednesday but Root is our overall tip from these markets.
Top Batsman Odds Summary: England: Root 3.60 (Betfair – Editor’s Pick), Hales 4.33 (Bet365), Morgan 5.50 (Bet365), Roy 6.00 (Bet365), Stokes 6.50 (Bet365), Buttler 11.00 (Betfair).
Pakistan: Azam 4.33 (Bet365), Ali 4.50 (Bet365), Hafeez 5.50 (Bet365), Shehzad 5.50 (Bet365), Sarfraz Ahmed 9.50 (Betfair).
Other Side Bets
We’re starting with England’s top bowler market where Liam Plunkett starts as favourite to return best figures for his side at 4.00 with Betfair. I’d be tempted to rest Jake Ball who looks expensive in the limited over game and bring in David Willey for this and the bookies seem to agree – pricing Ball at 5.50 with Bet365 and Willey at 5.00 with Bet365 again.
Adil Rashid at best odds of 4.33 with Bet365 and Mark Wood at a top price of 4.50 with Bet365 and Betfair were the stars of England’s win over Australia but I feel that Plunkett’s pace and bounce is key to a home victory on Wednesday.
England Top Bowler Odds Summary: Plunkett 4.00 (Betfair – Editor’s Pick), Rashid 4.33 (Bet365), Wood 4.50 (Bet365), Willey 5.00 (Bet365), Ball 5.50 (Bet365).
While the weather has played its part in this tournament, early matches went with form while they were followed up by some surprise results involving Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh – three teams that were written off ahead of the competition.
That’s why we’re not 100% confident going into this first semi but the only side to maintain their form so far is England and if they are at their best then they should be going through to Sunday’s final.