England the outsiders

England 8/1 to win the 50-over global showpiece for the first time.

By Tim Clement   Last updated: 22nd March 2011  

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England head into the quarter-finals of the ICC World Cup as 8/1 outsiders with Sky Bet following their group-stage scare.

South Africa and India head the betting at 3/1 each ahead of respective clashes with New Zealand and Australia, while England's final-eight opposition Sri Lanka are also far more fancied at 4/1.

Defeats to apparent minnows Ireland and Bangladesh saw Andrew Strauss' men waiting on other results to confirm their qualification, with a disappointing one-day series warm-up with Australia already tempering hopes of winning the 50-over global showpiece for the first time.

Consequently, they head into their final-eight clash with Group A runners-up Sri Lanka as 11/8 outsiders to progress, although hope can be taken from a 3-2 series success in 2007.

England have had to rely heavily on the batting heroics of Jonathan Trott and Andrew Strauss, who occupy second and third places in the tournament's top run-scorer table.

As a result the online bookmaker are offering only the South African-born duo in their range of team specials, which prices up Strauss at 11/10 to be England's top run scorer and Trott, who has seven more runs to his name, at 4/6.

In the tournament's overall top run-scorer market, the English duo are each 8/1 shots, while Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara is 10/3 favourite having notched 363 to date.

Pakistan's Shahid Afridi (17 wickets) has made the most of the Indian conditions whilst India's Zaheer Khan (15) has been consistent with his form coming into the tournament, both are clear favourites to end the tournament as top wicket-taker at 6/5 and 3/1 respectively.

Khan's chances will, however, depend on how his side fare against Australia in the eye-catching tie of the round, which the co-hosts are 4/6 favourites to win.

Despite ending the group stages with defeat to Pakistan, few dare write the holders off with Ricky Ponting's men are available at 6/1 to retain the trophy, while a repeat of their 2007 final with Sri Lanka is available at 8/1 in Sky Bet's 'Name the finalists' market.

Sky Bet's Tom Warburton said: "Australia were going about their business rather well up until a below par display against Pakistan. India also, have struggled to live up to the expectations set by their adoring support, although they should just have enough quality to see Ponting's men off. Much will depend on the strength and depth of the Australian batting line up, which has struggled to find its feet up to this point.

"Sri Lanka now look to have settled in the tournament, and hopes of an England upset could be optimistic to say the least, they will need more than the heroics of Strauss and Trott against a formidable bowling attack."