Bookmakers have picked the wrong favourite for the First One Day International match between Pakistan and South Africa, the opening game in their exciting best-of-five series.
Off the back of its innings and 92-run victory in the Second Test, South Africa is the First One Day International match favourite at odds of 1.80 with Ladbrokes. But even the top offer of Ladbrokes is wide of the mark. Pakistan represents excellent value at odds of 2.20 with a range of bookmakers, including Bet365, Betfred and Sportingbet.
First, there is very little to choose between Pakistan and South Africa in the One Day International rankings. South Africa is fifth on a rating of 105, while Pakistan is just one spot lower on a rating of 101. Those numbers on their own support the case for backing Pakistan at odds of 2.20 for what is a more of a home game to it than South Africa.
And second, there is the 2013 form of Pakistan and South Africa. Pakistan has played in 21 One Day International matches that have run their course, winning 10, losing nine and drawing two. Pakistan’s recent results have been pretty good, with the Pakistanis winning each of their last two games and four of their last five matches. South Africa has taken part in 18 One Day International games that have gone the distance, winning seven, losing 10 and drawing one. South Africa has experienced a post-ICC Champions Trophy letdown, losing 1-4 to Sri Lanka on the sub-continent.
Undoubtedly one of the reasons why South Africa won only one of its five One Day International matches against Sri Lanka was the absence of its star fast bowler, Dale Steyn. Maybe the bookmakers who are so keen on South Africa’s chance of defeating Pakistan in the First One Day International are unaware that Steyn will miss at least the opening two games of the series as officials manage his workload. According to the One Day International rankings, Steyn is South Africa’s number three bowler but there is not much between Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne Morkel and him. Besides, one would wager quite a considerable sum of money that most batsmen would prefer to face either Tsotsobe or Morkel instead of Steyn.
And that is not the only piece of negative team news for prospective South Africa backers. Hashim Amla is doubtful for not only the First One Day International but also the series in full because his wife is due to deliver their second child. Amla is well clear at the top of the One Day International batting rankings on a rating of 901 and, although South Africa’s stocks include second-ranked AB de Villiers as well, every team would miss someone of Amla’s ability. Amla has scored 3,675 runs at an average of 54.85 in 73 One Day International innings, 21 times reaching 50 and converting 11 of their good starts into centuries.
It follows that if one thinks that Pakistan is overpriced at odds of 2.20 to win the First One Day International that Sky Bet is generous to offer the Pakistanis at odds of 2.50 to win the five-match series. One’s preference is for backing Pakistan to take out the First One Day International, if only because one knows that Amla and Steyn are guaranteed spectators, something that may not be the case for the entire series. One should take it one game at a time.
With Amla doubtful for much of the One Day International series between Pakistan and South Africa, De Villiers is attractively priced at odds of 4.00 with Sky Bet to be the top batsman for the Proteas. De Villiers is ranked 25 places above South Africa’s third batsman, Jacques Kallis, in the One Day International batting rankings so, with Amla too short in the market, De Villiers is a value investment.
De Villiers, who captains South Africa in the One Day International arena, scored 164 runs in his only knock against Pakistan in the Second Test and averages 48.88 runs in One Day International games having scored 5817 runs in 142 innings, including 34 half centuries and 14 tons.