The Cricket World Cup gets underway on Tuesday with a potentially one-sided contest as the hosts Sri Lanka take on Zimbabwe in Group C (3pm BST). The Sri Lankans have the benefit of home wickets and are while they among the favourites to lift the trophy, they will need to get off to a winning start ahead of their potentially crucial game with South Africa later this week.
There are some experts who believe that Zimbabwe have a side strong enough to cause an upset but the current odds on this contest suggest that Brendan Taylor’s team have little hope of starting their tournament with a victory.
This is effectively a two horse race and there will be few games in world cricket where the odds are so imbalanced. If you look at the Zimbabwe squad then there is a good mix of talent and experience in there but recent form suggests that a shock is unlikely.
Prior to the tournament itself, all of the competing sides have been involved in a series of unofficial warm up games and Zimbabwe took on Bangladesh. This match ended in a comprehensive defeat and if Brendan Taylor’s side can’t beat the weaker teams then they will have little chance of success against a powerful Sri Lankan unit.
Taylor himself is a capable batsman who has made six hundreds in international cricket in the past. He is struggling for form however after a disappointing set of performances in the Sri Lankan premier league and that struggle continued in the game against Bangladesh.
Taylor not only skippers the side, he also keeps wicket but perhaps there is too much to take on – even in the shortest form of the game. However, if Zimbabwe are to stand a chance of winning this match then Brendan Taylor will be a key figure in the game.
Elsewhere, there is experience in the bowling attack with the veteran spinner Ray Price set to play a big part on slow Sri Lankan wickets but perhaps the Zimbabweans lack the penetration needed to take regular wickets that will help to restrict run rates.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka look powerful and after Kumar Sangakkara’s return from injury, the home side can choose from a full strength squad. Along with Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal complete a strong top order.
There may be questions over the strength of the Sri Lanka bowling attack and that could come into question later in the tournament but it should prove to be too good for an out-of-form Zimbabwe.
There could be hope of an upset here but it is a slim one: The weather in Sri Lanka has been poor and there is a strong threat of rain for this opening match of the tournament. If Zimbabwe bat second and we get a shortened game, the rules of Duckworth Lewis could play into their hands but otherwise, it’s difficult to see anything other than a routine Sri Lankan win.
Match Betting Tip: Sri Lanka to win, but we can not possibly advise anyone have a bet on a best-priced 1/7 shot (with Stan James Bookmaker), however good they look. So hold onto your betting money for another occasion and just enjoy the game.