West Indies v Australia
Monday 26 July 19.30
TV: live on BT Sport
The delay between the first and second ODI did West Indies a favour, clearly. After a Cod positive Test pushed back the game three days, they got their heads screwed on and produced a strong performance to level the series.
Mind you, it probably helped that they bowled first. They were able to put Australia under pressure. Hayden Walsh and Akeal Hosein once again combined nicely to produce 20 overs for just 63 runs and four wickets. Hosein claimed three of them. Pacer Alzarri Joseph also picked up three victims.
The Windies had a wobble in reply but first Shai Hope steadied the ship before Nicholas Pooran, with a welcome half-century, and Jason Holder (52) got them home.
Fabian Allen and Roston Chase are extra spin options if they want to make Australia toil with Jason Mohammed vulnerable. Shimron Hetmyer could pressure Darren Bravo for a spot at No 3.
Possible XI Lewis, Hope, Bravo, Mohammed, Pooran, Pollard, Holder, Joseph, Walsh, Hosein, Cottrell
Aussies in trouble
Australia are reliably consistent with their spin nightmare. Their troubles when the ball grips and turns has been a feature of the series. Posting 187 heaped the pressure on their bowling attack which is good, but not that good.
Of course the Aussie issue is deep-seated so, realistically, there is little they can do aside from teach the new generation how to play with spin clinics in Asia. But in terms of the here and now they are also hamstrung. They have no batting back-up apart from Dan Christian, who hasn't played for Australia in this format for four years. Aaron Finch has returned home with a knee injury so they are relying on ingenues like Josh Philippe and Ben McDermott. It's a tough ask.
The paucity of batting ability is perhaps best summed up by the 4/1 about Matthew Wade top scoring. He's batting at No 6 for goodness sake.
There's nowt wrong with the bowling group. Mitchell Starc is having an admirable series while Wes Agar, a late swap for Josh Hazlewood in game two, is doing okay. If Hazlewood is injured then Riley Meredith will retain his spot despite an expensive show. They would dearly love Ashton Agar to get fit to give them a much-needed spin option. So they're falling short with bat and ball when it comes to that skill.
Possible XI Philippe, McDermott, M Marsh, Carey, Henriques, Wade, Turner, Starc, W Agar, Zampa, Meredith
We're not entirely convinced by the West Indies batting line-up, either. So for innings runs we're looking to make use of a stodgy Bridgetown surface with the overs beginning to rack up. Can we go under at around the 255 mark on the runs line for either of them? It's possible. If not, look to take prices at that mark (or higher) with a reasonably quick start in the powerplay.
If Australia bat first be greedy if they get a partnership going. Look to lay the hell out of bigger numbers because once West Indies can get fresh eyes at the crease they can use their spinners in tandem and really squeeze.
Hosts should be favourites
It's not rocket science this contest. West Indies are as good as Australia. That's because this is an Aussie B-team and the hosts are able to use Hosein and Walsh superbly on a helpful surface.
So we don't have to believe they are a better team to recognise prices of around 2.1011/10 about the hosts are value. That's how they are shaping up with Aussie 1.8810/11. That's a bet that stinks the place out, by the way.
For game two we advised a trade into favourites for West Indies from 2.486/4. Obviously the market is waking up. But it's still dozy. They should be favourites in our book.
With strokemaking potentially difficult, backing top-order players at skinny prices (Shai Hope aside) has little appeal. It could be time to start taking small stakes on big numbers. Kieron Pollard at 15/2? Roston Chase at 14s? Fabian Allen at the same price. Wes Agar is the inspiration. He topped with 41 in game two. So Starc has appeal at 33s. We still reckon Turner is underrated at 10s. For the bowlers, Walsh and Hosein are priced as the West Indies favourites at 9/4 and 3/1 respectively.
Why Hope is Mr Reliable for West Indies at 2/1 - read here
The Hundred Preview Part 2 on Cricket...Only Bettor