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Nic Ladds 1st Oct 2009 - 19:50

Punting on Ponting could be the way to a profit

Having been going at it all summer, Australia and England meet once again in what is arguably the most important match so far in the semi-final of the Champions Trophy with England 11/8 to claim victory.

Australia are understandably 4/7 favourites having given the Three Lions a serious hiding 6-1 in the ODI series that followed the Ashes but the underdogs have so far beaten supposedly superior opposition in the shape of Sri Lanka and South Africa so they should be counted out at your peril.

Having been all but written off before the tournament, Andrew Strauss and his team have continued to shock, yes shock the cricket world with some excellent performances and they have put themselves in with a real chance of making it to the final and dare we say it...winning it.

In a one-off game England can of course win and if the likes of Owais Shah (4/1 for top England batsman), Paul Collingwood (4/1) and Eoin Morgan (6/1) can get going again then Australia will have a tough job stopping them.

It is hard to tell what pitch will greet the two sides at SuperSport Park as we have seen both a flat track with both sides reaching 300 and a trickier one like in the Australia v Pakistan match where both sides found it hard to get the ball away and as a result low scores of around 200 were the order of the day.

Collingwood looks the safest option to be top England batsman as he can play on a flat track or will be the best man to nudge the ball around on a tricky wicket if that is how the pitch turns out.

While England are riding the crest of wave, Australia are the favourites having not lost a game in their group matches and with Ricky Ponting in such good form, the Aussies could literally do anything and punters will be happy to take 11/4 about the captain top scoring.

Alternatives look to be Michael Hussey and Shane Watson who are both priced at 4/1 while Tim Paine at 9/2 has looked in good nick while at a whopping 28/1 some may latch on to Mitchell Johnson who can whack the ball around well as his 73 against West Indies showed and he could be the man if the top order fail to fire.

For a top bowler for England it is hard to look beyond James Anderson at 5/2 who has been by far the best so far and could get the right conditions to get his vicious swing going while 7/2 Stuart Broad looks likely to miss out and Graeme Swann at 7/2 seems the best alternative to Anderson as it will have been noted that Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi troubled the Australian batsmen at SuperSport Park last time.

So the question remains, can England upset the odds again and get themselves in to the final for just the second time?

The answer is yes they could but they have an almighty task overturning the Aussies who will be desperate to not lose to England again.

England make little appeal as an outright bet but neither do Australia at the prices and with Duckworth Lewis looking a possibility with the weather forecasts it is hard to predict an outcome.

The best bets look to be to side with Ponting for top Australian batsman as he is still in such good form and Collingwood for England who has been the model of consistency and should show up well no matter the conditions.

Ricky Ponting top Australian batsman - 11/4

Paul Collingwood top England batsman - 4/1


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