Sri Lanka v West Indies
Monday, 10:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket and Betfair Live Video
For the second match in a row at the same ground, Sri Lanka have an opportunity to keep their own faint qualification hopes alive by beating a demoralised, eliminated side. To do so, however, will require significant improvement on Friday's dismal effort against South Africa.
Sri Lankans yet to post a competitive total
Yet again, they failed to post anything like a competitive total. Given the way South Africa chased 204 down, par was probably one hundred higher. No batsman bettered 30. The team hasn't passed 250 yet nor any batsman reached 200 for the series yet.
Indeed, compared to how they've played all tournament, the victory over England looks ever more bizarre and probably ruinous for the hosts. The only other nations they've beaten in fifty over cricket since 2018 are Afghanistan and Scotland.
Windies have badly underperformed
Hope nevertheless springs eternal because these opponents have been equally disappointing - more so given pre-tournament expectations. Windies' latest hammering - bowled out for just 143 by India - reaffirmed their core weakness during this tournament.
For all the flamboyance, their batsmen can't cope for fifty overs against elite bowling. Hence why they failed to chase realistic totals against Australia and New Zealand. The power-packed line-up that scored 421 in a warm-up have made 300 only once, and failed absymally to defend it. Again, no individual has scored more than 200 in total.
Riverside a good ground for backing runs
The Riverside Ground could offer a chance to belatedly make their mark. Lasith Malinga aside, this Sri Lankan attack can't be described as formidable and Friday's match here pointed towards decent batting conditions.
Elsewhere, reaching even 250 has become a tough ask, with the ball not coming on to the bat. Chester-le-Street was the exception in recent days, even if Sri Lanka failed to take advantage. County matches often see very big totals.
Given the failures of both, it is hard to predict where the par 1st Innings Runs line opens. Sri Lanka tend to be around the 240-250 mark in each game, and keep falling short. I'm far less inclined to back 'unders' here than elsewhere, though, and Windies attack is not so fearsome.
For Windies, I reckon par will be around the 270-280 mark. If they bat first and the early pitch signals are positive, I will be backing 'Overs'. Hopefully their array of hitters will relax now all is lost, and enjoy themselves.
Windies hot favourites despite lack of motivation
That is what the market expects, with Windies an extremely prohibitive 4/11 to hit Most Sixes and 4/9 to be Team of Top Batsman. Both are highly likely but the odds are too short.
They are also just 1.574/7 to win the match, despite the disparity in motivation for either side. I certainly favour Windies here, for the reasons laid out above, but these odds make no appeal at all. They are simply not reliable enough to back at odds-on.
Emerging Windies stars to make their mark
In the Man of the Match market, I'm trying three Windies batsmen - Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Nic Pooran. This trio have all made their mark and showcased at least some of their potential. They are both the most in-form batters and the team's future.
This strikes me as a preferable plan than backing them in the Top Windies Runscorer market, for which Hope is a mere 13/5, ahead of Gayle at 11/4.
For Sri Lanka, 10/1 about Dhananjaya de Silva top-scoring is fair. The all-rounder often makes a significant middle-order contribution and appeals more than the favourites, Kusal Perera and Dimuth Karunaratne.
Mathews and Malinga still the best Sri Lankan bets
I've backed Angelo Mathews a few times in this market without success, but the broad argument still applies. He is one of very few class acts in the side and showed his wellbeing with 85 not out versus England. 17/1 for Top Match Batsman is too big.
Finally, Lasith Malinga is a solid favourite at 3/1 to be Top Sri Lankan Wicket Taker. With nine wickets, he's four ahead of the rest in their list and, as in the IPL, has defied us sceptics who thought his match was a thing of the past. Given that he bowls at the death, Malinga will usually provide a good run in this market.
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