Be aware of wayward Welsh bowlers

Oval Invincibles v Welsh Fire
Monday 1 August 18.30
Live on Sky Sports

Oval need spin

It only took two matches but the ‘Invincibles’ are already a marketing mess with an even-money record. The Oval franchise went down against the Superchargers on Saturday after their middle-order was blown away.

Adil Rashid claimed three wickets for just 13 as spin-dominance continued in the tournament. Jason Roy fought admirably with an unbeaten half-century to get Oval to 127 but it was always going to be a tough target to defend because, get this, they picked just two spinners – Tabraiz Shamsi and Sunil Narine

That has to be rectified moving forward. Sure, Narine and Shamsi are more than solid but it equates to 40 balls of spin only. The top-of-the-table Trent Rockets bowled 75 in their previous outing. They need to find room for Nathan Sowter. Reece Topley might be vulnerable. Teams just don’t need four pacers in this format.

Possible XI Roy, Jacks, Narine, Billings, Ingram, Evans, T Curran, J Clark, Shamsi, Sowter, Saqib

Fire doused

The Fire were doused in their first outing without Jonny Bairstow. But they still looked a dangerous outfit with the bat in defeat by Manchester Originals.

Batting first they posted 150 and they are comfortably the fastest scorers in the tournament. Bairstow or not, they have intent to go big. Ben Duckett, Leus du Plooy and Matt Critchley, the latter two unheralded, showed zero fear.

Their issue, however, is with the ball. For such a big total in the bank Fire will have been disappointed to barely compete. Jimmy Neesham has played his last game so Lungi Ngidi’s potency might make a difference. He brings wickets, rather than economy, however.

Possible XI Banton, Cobb, Duckett, Philipps, Du Ploy, Critchley, Higgins, Qais, Payne, Ngidi

Pitch report

Fire are responsible for three of the four highest totals in the tournament. They have passed 150 each time. On a decent Oval surface, they have a chance to at least bust the par runs line which is likely to be mid-140s again if they bat first. But, we would rather wait to see if Oval pick that extra spinner. If not – and Fire bat first – we can expect to go over. On the flip side, Oval could do likewise. We have zero faith in this Fire bowling attack. We might pay a bit higher for Oval – say 148.5. It may even be time to start taking big numbers for 170 or 180 or more with Roy in nick. No rain is forecast.

The Hundred data
Batting 1st average score 138
RBP average 1.4
RBP average batting 2nd 1.44
145 or more 5/11
Powerplay average 33.6
Powerplay ave batting 1st 31.8
Powerplay average batting 2nd 45.5
Favourite wins 6/11
Chaser wins 7/11

Market to flip all over the place

Oval are 1.774/5 favourites with Fire 2.226/5. It is early days but it is quite clear the market has taken a view. And then some.

We can’t suggest Oval are value at such a price. They have to pick the correct XI for a start. And then they probably have to bat first. The intent with the bat from the Fire gives them a good chance of going into the break having flipped the market.

And that would be our strategy. Bet Fire at inflated odds, batting first with only two spinners to worry about. But it’s not one to let run. Instead trade it. As you can see from the data there is a burgeoning toss bias against the defender and Fire are unlikely to have the nous to keep Oval down. Plenty of flips expected.

Tops value

We’re waiting for Kiwi Glenn Philips to explode. And one wonders whether Fire could make better use of him than at No 4. Him opening instead of Josh Cobb would surely make more sense because he is so destructive. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that Sportsbook come up with 4/1. On the bowling market it will be interesting to see how Ngidi goes. We might get 3/1 about him as top wicket-taker for Fire.

Decoding The Hundred on Cricket…Only Bettor

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