Champions Trophy: The big questions and top tips for England v Pakistan
All the key information - including where to put your money - ahead of the first semi-final at Cardiff...
England v Pakistan - Wednesday (10.30, Sky Sports 2)
England have been nigh-on flawless in progressing to the Champions Trophy semi-final, and will win the competition if the next few days go anything like to form.
Not that it’s necessarily that easy.
Pakistan are wildly inconsistent, rebounding from crushing defeat to India with victories over South Africa and Sri Lanka to get this far.
Everything about the visitors looks second best to Eoin Morgan’s side, though. They lost their ODI series on these shores 4-1 last summer, and England will just hope that this match does not throw up the anomaly.
The hosts' only glitch has been at the top of the order. Despite being promised the tournament, Jason Roy appears set to pay the price for producing just 51 runs in eight ODIs this summer. Jonny Bairstow will take his place.
Taking all of that into account, the following bets look good for the first semi-final:
Highest opening partnership: England –
There can be little denying that Bairstow would have scored many more runs than Roy in this tournament.
If the Yorkshireman’s reported inclusion comes to pass, then a combination of he, Alex Hales, and the form of Mark Wood with the new ball should ensure that England get off to the better start.
Alex Hales: over 31.5 runs –
Despite missing out against Australia, Hales has managed 32 runs or more in six of his last nine ODI innings.
He also enjoys batting against Pakistan, hitting two centuries and managing an average of 43.8 against them in the last two years.
Adil Rashid: over 1.5 wickets –
Rashid has responded admirably to his questionable benching against Bangladesh, producing six wickets across the two subsequent matches to sit fourth in the competition’s wicket-taking charts.
Pakistan will likely line him up as a bowler to attack, and he should, therefore, pick up at least two more.
Azhar Ali: over 28.5 runs –
Pakistan’s ex-captain has produced the requisite runs for this bet in two of the competition’s three matches.
Back him to do so again at decent odds.
England to win -
Because that's what England do.