Ed Hawkins says there's no choice but to bet the hosts in the Caribbean Premier League early on Saturday...
"We can at least console ourselves that we're taking value and that in the likes of Colin Ingram, De Grandhomme and Fawad they have fighters"
St Lucia Zouks v Jamaica Tallawahs
Saturday 28 September 01.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Zouks remain a puzzle
After the Barbados Tridents hammered Trinbago Knight Riders in the early hours of Friday, the Zouks are likely to feel increased pressure. The Tridents, with a game in hand, are beginning to open up a gap.
So the Zouks have to find some consistency. They were thrashed themselves against Guyana Amazaon Warriors last time, proving that their victory over the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots was a false dawn.
They had gone into the Guyana game looking well-balanced. But they shuffled their batting order. Out went John Campbell and Rahkeem Cornwall was moved back up to open from the middle order. There was nothing badly wrong with the move, it's just odd that having found a winning formula of sorts they ignored it.
We've had doubts about their middle- to lower-order from day one. But their bowling stock is stronger with Kesrick Williams, Fawad Ahmed, Hardus Viljoen and Colin de Grandhomme offering decent variations.
Injuries hit JT hard
Jamaica Tallawahs have only two wins from eight but they're beginning to understand what this tournament is about - spin. Really, a look at the league table should be the only pointer you need with Guyana's army of spinners but better late than never for the Tallawahs.
Their extraordinary win over the Barbados Tridents - when they defended 127 - was all down to spin. They paired three twirlers in George Worker, Imran Khan and Zahir Khan. The latter two did a superb job conceding 30 runs off seven overs. Imran took three wickets.
Unfortunately, injuries have hit at the worst time. Jade Dernbach, who had perhaps found his level, is out with a groin injury and there appears little prospect of Andre Russell playing again this season unless they make the play-offs. Rovman Powell is also out. In a last-ditch effort Bangladesh opener Liton Das has been signed alongside Guyanese batter Trevon Griffith.
160 could win it this time
The first-innings scores in the last 13 at the Darren Sammy Stadium (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent first) read: 161-2/165-1/172-1/173-2/152-2/196-1/196-1/132-2/204-2/140-2/69-2/226-1/212-2. More than eight an over was not enough for the Zouks against Guyana but they might feel differently here with Jamaica's weak middle order.
Has to be the hosts
Jamaica have to win and then hope results go their way elsewhere to qualify. But just because they have to win, doesn't mean they will. And the skeletal odds of [1.64] are some of the worst we've seen.
We would need our head read to get involved with a team with their record, injuries and unreliability at those odds. Not that betting Zouks exactly fills us with wonder. We'd rather not bet at all but, simply, the prices are hopelessly wrong so we have no choice.
We can at least console ourselves that we're taking value and that in the likes of Colin Ingram, De Grandhomme and Fawad they have fighters. Hopefully they'll pull the rest of the Zouks along with them.
Fletcher has appeal
Jamaica are a one-man batting team. Phillips has top scored four times with one shared honours in eight games. He should be favourite considering that run. But reputation trumps records and Gayle gets top billing with Sportsbook at 21/10. Phillips is 10/3.
For the Zouks, we've been shying away from a bet on Andre Fletcher because, frankly, we've lost faith. He had come into the tournament with a 42 per cent win rate but has been a disappointment for bettors. We'll risk him here, though, because he's been pushed out to 4s having consistently been favourite.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back Zouks to win [2.4] (1pt)
Back Andre Fletcher top Zouks bat 4/1 Sportsbook (0.5pts)