Nothing less than a win will do for West Indies and Bangladesh on Friday morning. Paul Krishnamurty says the small boundaries at Sharjah will prove easy pickings for the Windies' big-hitters...
"The team hitting the most sixes wins in the overwhelming majority of matches at Sharjah...Windies probably have too much firepower."
West Indies v Bangladesh
Friday, 11:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Must-win scenario for both teams
After losing their first two matches of the Super12, these two sides need a miracle. Perhaps 'miracle' is a stretch. Both need to win all of their three remaining matches and hope other results go their way. Were England, whom both were hammered by, to win their last three, it would come down to run-rate.
A tall order, nonetheless, especially given how they've performed so far. Windies have been immensely disappointing with both bat and ball, hammered by both England and South Africa. Big changes are afoot.
Holder and Chase could come in for Windies
First, Jason Holder has been drafted in to replace the injured Obed McCoy. It was a mistake to leave the former captain, often an inspirational all-rounder, out in the first place. Albeit less of a mistake than ignoring IPL star Sunil Narine. How they could use his talents here at Sharjah.
Lendl Simmons must surely be dropped after a catastrophic innings against South Africa, using up 35 balls for just 16 runs. The likeliest candidate to come in is Roston Chase, although Andre Fletcher is another option. Perhaps Holder will replace Ravi Rampaul - another odd selection.
It is harder to be over-critical of Bangladesh, about whom less was expected. They batted really well at this ground against Sri Lanka to hit the second highest total of the tournament, only to see 171 chased down. Against England, they were simply out of their depth.
Bangladesh held their own in recent match-ups
Historically, there hasn't been much between them in T20. Windies lead 6-5 in international match-ups, and the score is 3-3 over the past seven years. Indeed, there's a good case to be made for backing the outsider here.
The Sharjah pitch is playing slow and I suspect this will be a used pitch, which arguably favours the sub-continent side. There is a big toss bias. Pakistan's victory over New Zealand on Tuesday makes it 11 from 14 to the chasing side here.
Windies highly likely to dominate sixes count
No question, Windies are too unreliable to be taking pre-match odds of 1.538/15 about. However they are ultra-reliable in the Most Sixes market. They've won this market in 14 of 15 matches during 2021, usually by a big margin. The exception was when being skittled by England for 55 last week.
We don't put up 1.51/2 chances on these pages but, for this market at least, Windies offer solid acca material.
This stat is a major deterrent to backing the upset, because the team hitting the most sixes wins in the overwhelming majority of matches at Sharjah. These small boundaries offer easy pickings for the likes of Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmeyer. Windies probably have too much firepower.
The hunt for value is therefore restricted to side markets. 1st Innings Runs are bound to be set low after New Zealand landed below 135. Beware of which pitch is being used, though, as the previous two matches had bucked the trend with 190 and 171 totals. Were that one used again, 15/8 about Both Teams to Score 150 would be a steal.
A wait and see approach is best advised and, in any case, I'd be wary of going against those Windies hitters.
Three picks for man of the match
Man of the Match could be the one. In the previous two Sharjah matches, the award went to a bowler for heroic efforts but equally likely is that the game will be determined by a rapid, explosive innings. Had Haris Rauf not taken four wickets in the first innings to restrict New Zealand here, Asif Ali's 27 off 12 to secure the chase might have landed the honours.
The obvious candidate is Evin Lewis, who hit six maximums against South Africa and gets first crack as opener. 15/2 is short, but fair under the circumstances. There's also the prospect of him dominating an easy chase after Bangladesh are restricted.
I'd prefer him to Chris Gayle at 12/1 - whose failure to take singles could prove costly at Sharjah - and the out-of-form Andre Russell. Instead, try Kieron Pollard at 14/1. He's enjoyed plenty of success here in the IPL and there's always the chance that the big man will make an impact with the ball, or taking an amazing catch or two.
Let's also throw in Mahedi Hasan at 20/1. On a pitch likely to turn, he could well prove the key bowler for Bangladesh and again, could be the one to provide a gamechanging effort with the bat towards the end of their innings.
Finally note that in the Top Team Runscorer markets, the two enhanced players are Evin Lewis and Shakib Al Hasan, to 11/4 and 10/3 respectively.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty
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