It's easy to make a case for a big bet on New Zealand and we will, with Kane Williamson and Lockie Ferguson strong selections to be the man-of-the-match, says Jamie Pacheco...
"But we’d be a bit foolish to not keep Williamson on side, as well. The Black Caps tend to lose at least one of their openers early doors so he’s never lacking for time at the crease. He could well show his class, temperament and skill here once again. He’s 8/1."
West Indies v New Zealand
Saturday June 22, 12:30
Live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event
Williamson showed his class
The fact that New Zealand have won two close matches might just be the best thing that could have happened to them before we reach the semi-finals. Ok, admittedly the win over Bangladesh was more of a self-inflicted wobble in a match that they didn't really look like losing but the win over South Africa wasn't. That was a proper tough chase on a tricky pitch masterminded by Kane Williamson with one of the best back-against-the-wall centuries that you're likely to see in a while.
The Kiwi skipper nudged, nurdled and cut his way to a match-wining knock with the icing on the cake being a six (his only one) in the final over to bring up his century.
As an aside, it's a shame the ICC have often prepared pitches that are far too biased towards the batters. The one at Edgbaston where the par score was about 250 made for a brilliant game, a fair contest between bat and ball that went to the wire. Sure as hell beats a game where the team batting firsts posts 380 and the chasers are never in the game.
I said in past previews that I wasn't too sure about Colin de Grandhomme's place in the side but his 60 off 47 was alongside Williamson's tonne, the difference between the two sides.
Make your own minds up on the Windies
What you make of the Windies depends on what sort of cricket fan you are.
If you're all for entertainment above all else, you'll probably be loving them. Chris Gayle wears aviator sunglasses and doesn't bother taking his hat off when bowling, Andre Russell tries to hit every ball for six and the fast bowlers are rapid enough but erratic and indisciplined.
If you think international cricket is all about giving yourself the best chance of wining every game then you won't like what you've been seeing from Jason Holder's side.
Gayle can't run twos, a basic requirement for a Sunday league batsman, no batsman bar Shai Hope is prepared to score runs other than in boundaries, Russell seems to have a new injury every game and the fielding is shocking.
It backs up what many of us suspected all along. They'll carry on being a huge threat in T20 cricket but they're no quality ODI side. An early exit looms.
Big bet on the Black Caps
I'll say here what I said ahead of New Zealand's game against South Africa. When a team looks stronger in every department than the one they're up against, prices of 1.865/6 (in that game) or even 1.654/6 (in this one) aren't to be sniffed at. If this were Australia or England they'd be much shorter than New Zealand are.
There's no rain predicted so the chances of a shortened game that could play into the Windies' hands are null.
If you wish to back New Zealand at that price, it will be a very decent bet. I know I will.
Chris Gayle (3/1) probably made the right decision in calling it a day as far as ODIs go after this World Cup. It's one thing not being fully fit (ever), it's quite another looking like you don't give a damn.
Gayle (below) has passed fifty just once so far and is averaging just 27 for the tournament. Leave that price well alone.
Elvin Lewis is a fine payer and an important one for them for the next few years but he's out of nick. Three knocks have yielded just 73 runs.
If you want to play this market, the best option is the consistent Shai Hope- joint-favourite with Gayle- and the team's best batsman. He's also their top scorer for this tournament.
The other decent option is Shimron Hetmyer at 10/1. Scores of 39 and 50 from his last two knocks suggests he's been hitting the ball pretty well and sooner or later a score of 50 will be enough to win this betting heat in light of such a flaky batting line-up.
It's not often one has to do a double-take when looking at a Betfair Sportsbook price. But when you see Lockie Ferguson priced at 25/1 to be man-of-the-match, one has to. The speedster is fourth on the tournament wicket-taking lists with 11 wickets and has already being extremely close to winning a MOM award. First against Sri Lanka (he took three wickets to Matt Henry's four), then against Afghanistan (he took four to Jimmy Neesham's five) and finally against South Africa. He came good as top bowler with three wickets after being tipped at 7/2 but missed out on man-of-the-match honours to Williamson's century.
Sooner or later he has to get it. This could be the match.
But we'd be a bit foolish to not keep Williamson on side, as well. The Black Caps tend to lose at least one of their openers early doors so he's never lacking for time at the crease. He could well show his class, temperament and skill here once again. He's 8/1.
Jamie's World Cup P and L
Points staked: 15
Points Returned: 8.22
P and L: -6.78 pts
3pts Back New Zealand to beat West Indies @ 1.65
0.5pts Back Kane Williamson to be man-of-the-match @ 8/1
0.5pts Back Lockie Ferguson to be man-of-the-match @ 25/1