Richard Mann previews the forthcoming Cricket World Cup action between Australia and Pakistan.
Bangladesh v Sri Lanka
The fact Bangladesh are 7/10 shots to beat Sri Lanka at Bristol on Tuesday tells you just how far Sri Lankan white-ball cricket has fallen in the last few years and I'd be surprised were they able to win another game at this year's Cricket World Cup.
Having been hammered by New Zealand in their opening match, Sri Lanka did manage to register a win when beating World Cup debutants Afghanistan by 34 runs on Duckworth/Lewis method last week, but only after they had collapsed to 201 all out in the first innings, and they look a side with a number of gaping holes to fill.
Captain Dimuth Karunaratne is a classy opening batsman who continues to shoulder a heavy burden and, Kusal Perera aside, he isn't really getting the support he needs with Angelo Matthews badly out of sorts and Kusal Mendis still flattering to deceive.
The rest of the batting looks threadbare and if Bangladesh can pick up early wickets, 7/10 could look very fair given Sri Lanka's bowling lacks the pace and mystery spin that once made it such a fearsome attack.
Lasith Malinga still leads from the front admirably but he isn't the force of old and fellow seamer Nuwan Pradeep will miss this one having taken a nasty blow to his hand in training on Sunday.
All in all, it is hard to get excited by this current Sri Lankan side and with Bangladesh looking a much-improved outfit at present, they should be able to register their second win of the tournament having already defeated South Africa before pushing New Zealand close and showing up well against tournament favourites England.
Despite failing to fire against England, Bangladesh's opening pair of Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarker have started the tournament well and with Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim hitting the ground running with significant contributions of their own, the batting looks strong and should have too many guns for Sri Lanka.
Even at odds-on, Bangladesh warrant strong support and I can't resist a play on Shakib to take Man of the Match honours at 9/1 (bet365, BetVictor).
Shakib has been the linchpin of Bangladesh cricket for a number of years now, his canny left-arm spin and pugnacious batting helping him become the leading limited-overs all-rounder in world cricket, and his performances so far in England have been most impressive.
We shouldn't be surprised, Shakib currently boasts 5977 ODI runs and 252 ODI wickets in a career that spans over 200 matches and this vastly-experienced campaigner struck a sparkling 121 against England on Saturday to push his Cricket World Cup 2019 batting average to 86.66.
Shakib has already started the tournament well with the ball, too, and should, as expected, Bangladesh come out on the right side of this one, it seems fair to assume that their talisman will be in the thick of the action.
As such, he looks well worth an investment at 9/1.
Australia v Pakistan
Having kicked off their World Cup campaign with victories over Afghanistan and the West Indies, Australia crashed back down to earth when beaten by India at the Oval on Sunday and suddenly captain Aaron Finch has a few issues to address with his side.
David Warner's return to the fold is an obvious plus but his laboured half-century against India stunted Australia's run chase and his presence in the team has meant Usman Khawaja - a revelation when opening the batting in Warner's absence - has been shuffled down to number four.
Khawaja batted selflessly for his brisk 42 on Sunday but he is patently better suited to batting at the top of the order and I wouldn't be surprised if he and Warner were to swap batting positions in the next few weeks.
On the upside, Steve Smith's return to form will certainly have pleased the Australian camp and with Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey adding some real firepower in the middle order, the batting has the potential to be destructive if the top-order can begin to fire.
The bowling is a concern, though. The excellent Pat Cummins forms a potent new-ball pairing with Mitchell Starc but Nathan Coulter-Nile has been down on pace so far in this tournament while spinner Adam Zampa has offered little threat.
Zampa is a solid and consistent competitor who will always give his all but for a wrist-spinner, he doesn't spin the ball a great deal and was somewhat exposed against India's strong batting line-up on Sunday.
Spin, particularly wrist-spin, has become a game changer in white-ball cricket - think Rashid Khan, Adil Rashid and India's pair of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal - with that ability to pick up crucial wickets in the middle overs often the difference between conceding over 300 or not.
Zampa will certainly need to become a more attacking threat if Australia are to be genuine World Cup contenders and Finch might well consider drafting in Nathan Lyon for Wednesday's clash with a buoyant Pakistan following their shock win over England last week.
Pakistan were unable to build on that momentum when rained off against Sri Lanka subsequently but Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir were both exceptional against England, particularly at the death, and boast the tools to put Australia under pressure again.
However, Pakistan's match odds of 11/5 can be attributed to the fact that their batting remains very shaky and it wasn't too long ago that the West Indies bundled them out for 105 with some hostile pace bowling.
Despite their improved showing against England, it is worth remembering how poor Eoin Morgan's side were in the field that day with top scorer Mohammad Hafeez dropped early by Jason Roy, a costly error that was to prove the turning point in the match.
I wouldn't be confident in Pakistan backing up and for all Australia have a couple of selection quandaries themselves, they should have too many guns in Taunton, as odds of 2/5 would suggest.
The top Pakistan runscorer market, understandably, revolves around Babar Azam and in terms of a bet, he makes by far and away the most appeal.
Babar is a rare talent whose excellent technique has seen him take to English conditions like a duck to water and his fluent 64 against came hot on the heels of his 277 runs at an average of 55.40 against the same opponent in their four-match ODI series earlier in the summer.
Of all the Pakistan batsman, Babar is the one with the game to tame the likely early onslaught from Cummins and Starc and as we have seen so many times before, if he gets in, he will make it his mission to bat through the innings and let others play around.
With all that in mind, 3/1 must be taken.
Preview posted at 1300BST on 10/06/2019