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Smart (and odd) bets you can make on cricket

Cricket, in all of its forms, is a massively popular sport both in India and across the world. Whether you’re settling to watch a test match, taking in a fast-paced Twenty20, or following the limited-overs World Cup, there are potentially millions of people doing precisely the same, some of them having got up early in the morning or stayed up past midnight to do so thanks to time zones.

Many of those viewers will have more reasons than mere sentiment to take an interest in the result. Cricket has become a big focus for online betting due to its appropriateness for statistical analysis. For any player or team in the world, there are so many facts and figures, and these translate very well to betting markets. While the most popular bet for browsers here and at other sites will always be the simple “match winner” wager, there is a world of interesting topics that you can predict, and below are some of the smartest.

Most fours/Most sixes

There are ways and means of scoring runs in cricket, and some batsmen build an entire career on accumulating big totals by simply taking the runs the bowler gives them. Others take a more swashbuckling approach, punishing any ball that’s short of a length by hammering them to the boundaries. This is a more high-risk approach, and sometimes the team that plays the most thrilling shots is not the team that wins the game, because patience pays off for the other side. However, you can back a team to hit the most boundaries. Even if they lose the game overall, they can give you a bit of a boost.

Most run outs 

Many bookmakers who cover cricket include this market based on deciding which of the two teams will eliminate more opposing batsmen with a run out. There’s a lot that goes into judging how this will go. Some teams get a lot of run outs because they have a fielder with a specific knack for the skill. Australia’s Ricky Ponting was a nightmare for opposing batsmen, as he would “hide” in the field by changing his position regularly, and when a loose ball found its way to him he would strike. Equally, some teams and players are more prone to being run out. Inzamam ul-Haq was an incredible batsman, but slow on his feet, and was vulnerable any time he had to move between the creases.

The coin toss

Yes, you can bet on the result of the opening coin toss. Not “who will bat first”, which at least has some cricketing analysis within it considering how different teams have different strengths and weaknesses. The actual coin toss. Some people will feel that they can make smart money by betting on a captain in a poor run of luck to lose the toss. This often felt true when Michael Atherton was England skipper, but honestly – it’s not something you can predict. Some bookies will let you bet on whether it will be heads or tails, too, which is just as random.

Total runs

On a pitch with little action, there is always a decent chance that the bowlers will be so hard-pressed to get their opponents out that the match moves inexorably towards a draw. In such matches, the best bet – literally – may be to just bet on how many runs will be scored. Across four innings, the batsmen have the chance to burnish their career averages and pile up some runs in the hope of a timely declaration. Based on the conditions the total could get up towards 2000, or at least beat the highest total this century, achieved when Australia and India shared 1747 at Sydney in 2004. Yes, the match was drawn.

Player-specific spot bets

If a math features a player with a particular defining characteristic, then bookmakers might play on that by offering odds on a certain occurrence in the match. You might get odds on how many catches Joe Root will take, for example, or on whether Umran Malik will bowl over 100mph in a match. These bets can be gimmicky, and the odds are usually somewhat conservative given how hard it is to predict what will and won’t happen. But gimmicks can be fun sometimes.

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