All eyes on Bangladesh
It may be exaggerating to say that the entire focus of the cricketing world is now on Bangladesh - but a lot of us are now really looking forward to the T20 World Cup which is almost within touching distance.
This time around, a record number of 16 teams will compete for the ICC World Twenty20 alongside eight ladies' teams including the Bangladeshi hosts for the first time in the history of the event.
The T20 World Cup takes place between 16th March and 6th April and it promises to be a fascinating contest in prospect - mainly because it's probably a more open competition than ever before.
What's more, all this is reflected in the betting market with the odds suggesting that eight teams have a fighting chance of emerging victorious.
Specifically, those eight are India, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, Pakistan, England and New Zealand - broadly in that order of favouritism though the market is shifting all the time. The odds generally fan out from India as marginal favourites at around 4-1 - to New Zealand, the outsiders of the eight considered in with a chance at somewhere around 12-1.
There's then a very big gap to the host nation at a best-priced 33-1 then an even more yawning gap to the minor cricketing nations who are given no chance whatsoever by the market - with Zimbabwe at 125-1, Ireland 500-1, Afghanistan 500-1 - then Holland, Hong Kong, Nepal and the United Araba Emirates all at 5,000-1 .
If you accept that Bangladesh will be a real challenge for anyone to beat on home soil, but that they probably won't have quite what it takes to challenge the really big seven or eight names in international cricket -then Pakistan may well be the smart bet. At a best-priced 7-1, the Pakistan side is in good form against Sri Lanka at the time of writing and looks like making a real go of things in its fellow Muslim country Bangladesh.
Once Bangladesh's chances have evaporated in the Twenty20 heat as they probably will at some point - Pakistan will enjoy huge support and for any match they play (bar the hosts of course) the atmosphere will be like a home game.
Overall, then, the wisest value-based bet seems to be on Misbah-ul-Haq's boys. So if you're going to have a punt on the T20 World Cup, Pakistan has to be where the value lays and there may even be a smart way you can get a free bet with 32Red.
If you go to au.32red.com, you'll soon see that you should qualify for a free $32 for each $10 you deposit if you haven't registered with the site before.
And with games like roulette, you have a pretty close to 50-50 chance of winning - so with the welcome bonus you have a great chance of coming out ahead and transferring the money to the 32Red sports book. Whether you then take our value-based advice or go for a patriotic bet on Aus at around 5-1 is quite another matter!
Previous news articles
Cricket News 2014
Cricket News 2013