T20 World Cup Tips: Ed Hawkins’ top five early-bird bets

Karim Janat has played 27 T20 internationals and hardly pulled up trees. But the eagle-eyed will have spotted that Janat has been allowed to branch out.

He has batted at No 3 in six of his last eight appearances for the national team. And once as an opener. There is no guarantee that he does not return to the lower-order with Afghanistan elevated straight into the Super 12s but he hardly disgraced himself up top.

Charged with giving his team fast starts against Zimbabwe and Ireland he equipped himself well. In his last two outings he managed 53 off 38 and 21 off 14.

His classification as a bowling all-rounder is unfair. He has three first-class centuries and a T20 ton. Not many can boast that. The 40-1 is a wrong price, plain and simple.

David Warner and Steve Smith, despite form and styles of play to the contrary, should start Australia’s campaign. Whether they finish it remains to be seen.

Most T20 aficionados wouldn’t have them anywhere near a first-choice XI and they take up a chunk of the book for top Australia bat. Warner is 5/2 and Smith 10/3.

We’d transpose them with Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell. Marsh was in terrific touch in Australia’s outing in the Caribbean. Maxwell was brilliant in the Indian Premier League and carried the Bangalore batting with Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers below par. Dutch the pair at 9/2 and 11/2 respectively.


It’s unlikely to be angst-free. With Australia coach Justin Langer so stubborn and skipper Aaron Finch confirming Warner will open, despite all evidence suggesting he’s a busted flush, it could actually be too late before Marsh and Maxwell get the top-dog status they deserve.

What will be key is dropping Smith entirely. That will allow Marsh and Maxwell to bat in their best respective positions at Nos 3 and 4.

Shaheen Shah Afridi is likely to be all the rage at 16/1 for top tournament wicket-taker. And why not? His left-arm Exocets at the death fit the bill perfectly for white-ball dominance.

We wouldn’t put you off that bet. But there is a bigger rick. His team-mate Hasan Ali has a superior strike rate to every single bowler in the ‘Big Eight’ bar Oshane Thomas in the last two years at 11.5.

Moreover, Hasan’s strike rate stands up when we filter all T20 matches in the UAE. Of certain starters in the tournament only Jasprit Bumrah trumps his record of a wicket every 14.7 balls. He should be half the price.

Rashid Khan is, of course, the expected favourite for this market. As the best short-format spinner in the world it is no surprise he is 11/10 jolly.

But that’s mighty short for a bowler who could well be the victim of ‘just see him off mentality’. Increasingly his value is for economy and his strike rate of 18 in the IPL was not the hit rate of an 11/10 chance here. Jason Holder out-bowled him in terms of wickets per game.

In his first three full years in T20 Rashid averaged 1.6 wickets per game. In the last three that has come down to 1.25.

The man of interest, then, is Naveen-ul-Haq. Naveen trumps Rashid on strike rate for Afghanistan in the last two years. That’s not a huge surprise. He takes wickets with the new ball and bowls at the death.

And, for the record, Naveen is averaging 1.4 wickets per game in 2021. He should at least be second jolly instead of Mujeeb.


Simon Doull on the World T20 with Cricket…Only Bettor