We would forgive you for wondering at the title of this article. How do people bet on matches if not based on predictions? The average Indian bettor on cricket relies on the odds offered by online betting sites in India.

Accuracy of Betting Odds

In general, the odds offered tend to be accurate as they consider various factors, such as the current form of the respective teams, the recent head-to-head results, and so on. But those odds tend to get diluted when many bettors favour one team or the other. This is especially true of matches between India and Pakistan. Most Indian bettors would bet on India to beat Pakistan in any match, on any venue, and under any circumstances. Such bias in favour of India is currently justified by the relative form of the two sides.

How Upsets Happen

In recent years, India have clearly been the superior side and the gap in quality between the teams has only grown. Therefore, before an India-Pakistan match, betting odds offered by betting sides tend to favour India and those odds tighten in favour of India as more and more bettors wager on India to win. Yet, there are occasional upsets, as in the ODI Champions League final in 2017. India and Pakistan met in that match held at Lords. India were overwhelmingly favoured to win that match and had earlier beaten Pakistan very convincingly in a league match. As things transpired, Pakistan pulled off a major upset. So, what went wrong?

To understand how such an upset could happen, let's look at a few "upsets" at the recently concluded ICC World Cup in England. There were quite a few in the league stage of the competition: the results of Pakistan vs West Indies, Bangladesh vs South Africa, Pakistan vs England, Sri Lanka vs England, New Zealand vs Pakistan, England vs India, and South Africa vs Australia all went in favour of the teams not favoured by bookmakers. But were these matches really upsets? Could a good analyst have predicted the outcomes of these matches? The answer is: yes. Let's take these matches one at a time and find out why they ended the way they did. Such an examination will reveal that a good predictor must account for before predicting the outcome of a match. 

Pakistan vs West Indies

In the league match between Pakistan and the West Indies, Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat. Pakistan, always nervy starters, were bowled out for 105 after the West Indians resorted to short-pitched bowling. On the back of a match-winning effort by Oshane Thomas and Andre Russell, a hero of the recently concluded IPL, WI slayed the Pakistan batting on a pitch that aided bounce. Pakistan collapsed to their eleventh successive ODI loss.

South Africa vs Bangladesh

Against South Africa, Bangladesh opted to bat first and piled up 330/6. Though SA made a valiant attempt to win, they fell short of the BD total by 21 runs. Three things went in Bangladesh's favour: they won the toss, promoted the in-form Shakib to number three in the batting order, and benefited from the absence of De Villiers in the SA squad.

Pakistan vs England

Pakistan’s batsmen got their act together against England en route to an imposing 348/8 on the back of fifties from Hafeez, Babar Azam and skipper Sarfaraz. England could not score more than 334/9 in reply despite centuries from Root and Buttler. Pakistan were helped by a poor fielding effort from England who ended up conceding 20 runs too many.

Sri Lanka vs England

Sri Lanka pulled off what was arguably the greatest upset of the competition against England. On a slow Headingly wicket, Sri Lanka struggled to reach a modest score of 232/9. The vaunted England batting collapsed thanks to brilliant bowling by Malinga. An in-form Ben Stokes was left stranded on 82, as Sri Lanka won by 20 runs. Winning this match would have ensured England a semi-final spot. So, nerves could have played its part in the result of the game. England went on to lose their next match -- against Australia -- and made things even more difficult for themselves in their bid to stay in contention.

Pakistan vs New Zealand

On a Birmingham wicket that aided seamers, Pakistan found an unlikely hero in Shaheen Shah Afridi whose three-wicket spell helped keep New Zealand down to a paltry 237/6. But that score could be hard to get for a fickle Pakistan batting line-up. Babar Azam came to the party with a brilliant hundred and saw his team home in the company of Haris Sohail.

India vs England

India, hitherto unbeaten in the league, found themselves chasing an imposing target of 338. England who batted first benefited from a whirlwind stand of 166 from their openers; Bairstow went on to make a well-deserved century. The England bowlers came up on top despite a ton by Rohit Sharma that helped his side to 306.

Australia vs South Africa

Against Australia, SA skipper du Pleissis finally got his act together to help his side to a decent 325/6. Warner led a fightback with a valiant 122 but could not prevent SA from registering a 10-run win.

Summary of Findings

Let's summarize the findings of our analyses of these matches. Winning the toss made a difference on good batting wickets. Bangladesh, Pakistan, England and South Africa benefited from batting first against their respective opponents in the form of South Africa, England, India, and Australia. Invariably, toss-winning captains choose to bat first. However, that decision could backfire on bowler-friendly wickets, as it did for New Zealand against Pakistan. 

What could a good predictor have done to foresee these upsets? For a start, a good predictor would have taken pitch conditions into account. For instance, against Pakistan, the New Zealand skipper either did not read the pitch correctly or backed his bowlers to defend a small total. Pitch conditions also negated Pakistan's decision to bat first against the West Indies.

So, if you base your bets only on the odds offered by a betting site, beware. Such odds do not consider other factors, such as the toss, or team compositions. Most importantly, they do not consider pitch conditions.

Our Verdict

The next time you decide to wager money based on betting odds, you must consider many other factors before you decide to risk your money. But you can stop worrying. We are here to provide you with winning predictions, and we can assure you that we take all the above factors, especially pitch conditions, in every prediction we make. So, read our cricket match predictions and laugh all the way to the bank!

Published by Lavismichel Inkel