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Ireland v England
A comprehensive victory over Afghanistan is what was expected from England in their opener, even if the Asian side did cause some issues with their use of spin for a large part of the game. That victory means its now five on the bounce for Jos Buttler’s side, with the two previous coming against top sides Australia (twice) and Pakistan (twice), and we’d fully expect them to come up trumps yet again here.
Ireland have won four of their last eight matches, and while wins over West Indies and Afghanistan are impressive, this is a step up in terms of quality, while against the world’s elite sides (Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) they’ve lost easch of their last 20 matches going all the way back to 2009.
The elements may play their part here in Melbourne, as they did when India and Pakistan played out their thriller last weekend at this very ground. Swing bowling may be the deciding factor here and Chris Woakes therefore appeals to top the bowling in such circumstances. He posted figures of 3/4 against Australia in Canberra just a couple of weeks ago, despite the match finishing with no result, and similar conditions are forecast here so we’d expect him to thrive.
CHRIS WOAKES TOP BOWLER
New Zealand v Afghanistan
A thumping victory over hosts Australia was the perfect way for the Kiwis to kick-off their campaign, and they’ll be confident of replicating England in posting another comprehensive win here against Afghanistan.
The Asian side shouldn’t be written off entirely, with their bowling attack often posing a lot of trouble, though their batting line-up has regularly struggled against some of the elite sides, and they’ll need to sort that out if they want to compete with the very best. Every Kiwi bowler took a wicket last time out, and we think with that confidence running through the whole attack this could be another tricky day for Afghanistan.
Finn Allan’s 42 in the opener was somewhat overshadowed by Devon Conway’s impressive 92, though Allan has been consistent in his last few outings with scores of 42, 32 and 62 in his last four innings. Conway has been by far and away New Zealand’s top batsman in recent months, though Allan has been a brilliant supporting act and this could be his time to shine at a longer price.
FINN ALLAN TOP BATSMAN
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