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Cricket World Cup: All-Africa and Asia encounters in Group B

Day two of the ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is nearly upon us, and Coral cricket writers preview opening Group B fixtures, which sees continental clashes.

Tournament second-favourites South Africa (3/1) are aiming for their first title and are up first against neighbours Zimbabwe, while Asian nations India and Pakistan, who also share a border, meet.

South Africa v Zimbabwe
Fallen giants Zimbabwe have been handed one of the trickiest opponents possible for their opening World Cup match this year, against South Africa, and their odds of 10/1 for victory look appealing but shouldn’t be backed.

They did manage to shock Sri Lanka by seven wickets in a warm-up fixture, though, and will be hoping Hamilton Masakadza, who hit an unbeaten hundred against them, will carry on his form for them to have any chance.

Hamilton is a 7/2 chance to be top Zimbabwe batsman again in his namesake city of Hamilton in New Zealand. Brendan Taylor is another player to look out for, and he top the market for his side at 10/3.

But it is South Africa who are the heavy odds-on 1/33 favourites to beat Zimbabwe, who have lost more World Cup matches than any other in history (37).

They have the likes of superstar batsmen skipper AB de Villiers, who recently smashed the ODI record for the fastest hundred (in 31 balls), and Hashim Amla. They are respective 3/1 and 15/8 shouts to top score for their nation.

Fast bowler Dale Steyn, meanwhile, will be hungry for success, and he is 2/1 to get the best figures for South Africa, who have yet to progress past the semi-finals.

India v Pakistan
This duo faced each other in the semi-finals at the last World Cup in 2011, with India, who went on to win the title, beating Pakistan by 29 runs. They are odds-on 4/7 favourites in Adelaide for victory once more.

However, the defending champions and joint-fourth favourites (10/1) are in miserable form leading up to these finals, failing to win a game in the Tri Series with Australia and England, so take tempting odds of 13/10 for Pakistan.

India, though, hold the record for the highest score at the World Cup, with 413 against British Overseas Territory Bermuda in 2007, and Ajinkya Rahane is an enticing 4/1 chance to be best batsman for them this time.

Pakistan (16/1 tournament chances) veteran Shahid Afridi, who has played a whopping 389 times for his country in ODIs and featured in four World Cups, is 11/4 to be best bowler for his team.