It’s an international break in the football but there is still plenty of top quality sporting action on the agenda this week. Mike Norman and Dan Thomas pick out the five must have punts…
1. World Cup Cricket, Semi-Final, Tuesday, Adelaide – Back New Zealand to beat South Africa @ 2.245/4
Having backed New Zealand antepost, I was at a party with few Kiwis and they all warned me off, insisting their side would ‘bottle it’, as usual.
But while the stats don’t make for great reading – six semi-final defeats on the bounce – this edition of the Black Caps have more about them and they shouldn’t be outsiders for Tuesday morning’s semi against South Africa.
Brendon McCullum‘s men are undefeated so far, have the highest run rate in the powerplay overs and have quality throughout the side. The Proteas, meanwhile, were mightily impressive against Sri Lanka in the quarters but lost twice in the group stages, confounding their short odds to finish top of Pool B and I think the market is wrong again. Should be a cracker. DT
2. Premier League Darts, Thursday – Back Dave Chisnall @ 2.89/5 to beat Adrian Lewis
Chizzy has done this column a few favours already in the last few weeks and we make no apology for selecting him again at what looks like a very generous price.
The St Helens man sits third in the Premier League table following four wins and a draw from his opening seven matches. The slight worry of course is that he has lost his last two, but defeats to Stephen Bunting – who was brilliant on the night – and Michael van Gerwen can happen at anytime in this format. This week Chizzy has an excellent chance to get back on track against the incredibly inconsistent Adrian Lewis.
The former world champion can be brilliant at his best but we’ve seen that type of form just once so far, and that was seven weeks ago. Jackpot is without a win in six matches and his three-dart averages have been no better than Chizzy’s throughout the league so far. We see no reason why Lewis should be such a strong favourite to win this. MN
3. PGA Tour Golf, Valero Texas Open, Thursday – Back Zach Johnson Top-5 Finish @ 7.06/1
Former US Masters winner Zach Johnson is gearing up toward the year’s first major in ideal fashion it seems, coming from out of the pack to record a top-10 finish at Bay Hill over the weekend. That was Zach’s fourth top-10 finish this season from just nine starts and this week in Texas we’re hoping he can record his first top five finish of 2015.
What we like about Johnson ahead of this week’s tournament is that TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks Course) is a venue that rewards accuracy, especially from the tee, and very few players in the game can hit it straighter than our man who finished in a tie for sixth here last year. He’s sure to go well on a course that suits. MN
4. Euro 2016 Qualifier, England v Lithuania, Friday – Back Harry Kane To Score @ 2/11/1 (Sportsbook specials)
Harry Kane proved he was human with a quiet performance at Old Trafford last weekend but the January and February player of the month returned to dreamland on Saturday with his first Premier League hat-trick – goals that took him to the top of the scorer charts.
It is worth repeating that Kane only had his first league start of the season in November, so to be above the likes of Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa in that list is an incredible achievement.
The next stage in the Kane story is the senior international stage and few would put it past him to score on debut versus Lithuania, even if he doesn’t start.
Our traders have priced it up as 2/1 as part of a whole host of Harry Kane Specials – get on board. DT
5. Dubai World Cup Night, Godolphin Mile, Saturday – Back Tamarkuz @ 6/4 (Sportsbook)
With a host of top class races to choose from and some strong-looking favourites on the card, our idea of the best bet on Dubai World Cup Night is Tamarkuz in the Godolphin Mile.
Hamdam Al Maktoum’s 5-y-o chestnut has made giant strides at Meydan in 2015 following a year off the course with an injury, winning his last three starts over course and distance in impressive fashion. This will be his toughest test to date, but under the excellent Paul Hanagan we expect the M Al Muhairi-trained improver to take the step up from Group 3 to Group 2 company in his stride. MN