Ed Hawkins previews the Caribbean Premier League clash from Providence on Thursday with little at stake for both outfits
"Gayle has looked motivated once - against the Patriots when he hit 116. Russell is injured. When he did play, he looked dangerous but his fitness record is appalling"
Guyana Amazon Warriors v Jamaica Tallawahs
Thursday October 3, 23:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Guyana Amazon Warriors have eight wins from eight, and unsurprisingly, they cannot relinquish their top-spot finish. This gives them a potential two chances to make the final where they will expect to win their first title.
Their excellent run has been powered by spin. Imran Tahir is averaging two wickets per game with an insane economy of 6.05. Chris Green has 12 wickets with an economy rate of 6.4. These two squeeze the life out of teams.
With the bat, Brandon King has emerged as a fine opener. His return of 287 runs at a strike rate of 148 is man of the series stuff. After him Shoaib Malik and Shimron Hetmyer have been solid. So much so that Nic Pooran hasn't batted three times.
But there is room for improvement. Keemo Paul's numbers make him look a weak link. He needs to tighten up with the ball as his economy rate is approaching ten.
The Tallawahs will finish bottom no matter what happens at Providence. They have never recovered from the decision to pump the majority of their budget into the back pockets of Chris Gayle and Andre Russell, two of the most unreliable performers in the franchise system.
Gayle has looked motivated once - against the Patriots when he hit 116. Russell is injured. When he did play, he looked dangerous but his fitness record is appalling.
It's a shame because at one stage, when the Tallawahs paired Imran Khan and Zahir Khan, the spinners, they looked dangerous. But defeat against the Zouks last time out ended their campaign.
Their batting order is much changed. Opener Dwayne Smith is now at No 3. Opener Liton Das at No 4. Glenn Phillips, who is opening, has been their one bright spot. One day it might dawn on someone that Gayle is a waste of a signing.
Here are the first-innings scores in the last two years (most recent first-innings scores first, 1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second): 180-1/153-2/155-1/157-1/191-2/122-2/154-2/173-2/185-1/141-1/146-2. The Providence wicket can be slow and tacky. Jamaica will do well to bust 160 if they bat first because this sort of track doesn't suit their top order.
Hosts not short enough
We have a rule in T20 franchise betting that we never get involved with a team in the [1.60] region because of the format's ability to reward one or two individuals who produce something exceptional over, say, a couple of overs.
There's nothing wrong with breaking that rule, though, with Guyana as big as [1.64]. They should be sub [1.60] given their form and their opponents' foibles. Jamaica should struggle for runs and should struggle not to concede them given they have the worst economy rate in the league.
Imran stands out
Tahir gets a 9/4 quote from Sportsbook for top Guyana bowler. It's not too shabby considering his two-per-game stat. Do make a note of Romario Shephered, though, at 9/2. He has a strike rate of 15.1 so there is potency to the price.
For the Tallawahs, Imran Khan is underrated at 7/2. He has the best strike rate (10.8) of any of his team-mates and the surface should provide him with plenty of grip and bite. Zahir, the jolly, needs seven balls more. Remember that Jade Dernbach is out with a groin injury.
Phillips is 7/2 with Sportsbook for top Jamaica bat and, as ever, we'd advise you bet him rather than Gayle who is too short at 16/5. For Guyana, King should be favourite so there's nothing wrong with having a nibble on the 3/1. We've ended our interest in Pooran, who is 9/2. A few games ago he was at sixes and sevens and we see no reason for the cut.