International cricket: Australia search for World Cup seamer

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While the bricks of Pakistan’s Test-match fortress in Abu Dhabi are built higher with every fizzing delivery, there is reason to wonder whether Misbah-ul-Haq and his men will manage to escape it themselves before the World Cup in February.

A double-whitewash humiliation of the tournament’s co-hosts, Australia and New Zealand, in red-ball cricket is almost complete, with the Kiwis hanging on to their two remaining wickets in the second Test with soap-lathered hands at the time of writing.

However, the 12/1 shots for 50-over domination will only play seven one-day international’s after the conclusion of their Test schedule, before their World Cup campaign kicks off against the old enemy India at the Adelaide Oval.

Other nations, with somewhat more notorious organisational characteristics, are dialling up their coloured-kit efforts in preparation for cricket’s limited-overs pinnacle and the start of a five-match series between the Aussies and South Africa is the highlight.

Australia, who are 8/13 to win the series and 4/6 to take the opening encounter, have a settled batting line-up, but a bowling conundrum as Nathan Coulter-Nile, Josh Hazelwood and Kane Richardson fight to take the final seaming spot at the World Cup.

South Africa can call on rested stars following the recent T20 series loss and have experience throughout their side, making their 5/4 price for the series an alluring one.

In India, Virat Kohli’s stint as stand-in skipper for MS Dhoni resulted in an unassailable 3-0 series lead against Sri Lanka, who reacted to the impending defeat by sending one of their two best batsman home.

The hosts are 2/5 to beat the Kumar Sangakkara-less Sri Lanka in the fourth ODI, claim their sixth 50-over win in a row and enhance their 9/2 odds for World Cup victory.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.