South Africa v West Indies
Monday, 10:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event
Saffers hopes already hanging by thread
Although we are not enough halfway through the league stage, this is already a must-win for South Africa after their opening three matches yielded comprehensive defeats to England, India and Bangladesh.
Strangely, considering the world-class talent in the squad, failure has felt predictable. Their batsmen underachieved in every game and were never in contention against India last time, when posting a score at least 50 below par at this ground. Only finisher Chris Morris managed a strike-rate above 100.
One must expect an improvement at some stage and, to be fair, everybody will struggle to score against India. With bowlers such as Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir, South Africa are bound to win some games. I suspect, however, it is already too late having ceded those two points to Bangladesh - whom most of their rivals for a top-four spot will beat.
Windies still strong despite Aussie defeat
Windies, alternatively, are very much alive and kicking despite missing a golden opportunity after reducing Australia to 79-5. The two points and superb run-rate secured in an opening win over Pakistan, nonetheless, are invaluable moving forward.
I don't think a harsh verdict on the defeat to Australia should be drawn. Ultimately, they fell to two outstanding innings from Nathan Coulter-Nile with the bat and Mitchell Starc with the ball. That they ran genuine title contenders close is a positive.
We are yet to see this Windies batting line-up at full throttle. That will surely change against lesser attacks. They scored 421 in their final warm-up match and, with extraordinary power batting down to at least eight, are liable to produce something similar when an opportunity to bat first in run-friendly conditions arrives.
Run totals highly weather dependent
The early weather forecast for Southampton is pretty grim. We may well not get a full first innings and conditions are likely to be overcast and difficult for batting. That was the case last time and South Africa put on a mere 227. Par was likely around 280-290 on that occasion.
Before playing the 1st Innings Runs market, check the sky and the forecast. In good conditions, much higher scores are on offer at the Rose Bowl. May's match between England and Pakistan yielded 373 and 361.
Windies marginally preferred
We've seen surprisingly few close games so far, and none going down to the final balls. This could very well produce the most exciting finish yet. The market marginally prefers South Africa at 1.910/11 to West Indies at 2.111/10. I see it level or perhaps the other way around.
As with the runs market, we must consider the high probability that some overs will be lost and DLS required. The toss will be very important and I would definitely rather wait before playing. The plan is to back Windies as soon as they hit 2.56/4.
Short innings offers advantage to big-hitters
The prospect of shortened innings also significantly impacts the top runscorer markets. Opening batsmen have a much better chance than usual and finishers are liable to be promoted.
For Windies, that makes Chris Gayle better value than usual at 3/1 and Andre Russell will surely come in a lot earlier. If he does, the available 10/1 will look a steal.
For South Africa, a similar case could be made for Quinton de Kock at 3/1, but he's yet to really thrive in England. The one I reckon is ripe for promotion is Chris Morris - especially after top-scoring last time at number eight. The all-rounder has a strike rate of 99 in ODIs and 130 in T20s. Take 25/1 for Top SA Runscorer.
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