Ahead of Sunday's clash in Kandy Ed Hawkins looks at two unheralded openers who should do plenty of damage on the top-bat markets...
"Maybe Hope would get more attention if he gave himself a self-congratulatory moniker or tried to smash every ball out of the park because quick singles was beneath, and beyond, him"
Audacity of Hope
On a weekend when Quinton De Kock and David Warner attempt to reaffirm their reputations as two of the most reliable and big-hitting openers in the ODI game, it is worth noting that there are couple on the undercard that is Sri Lanka versus in West Indies at Pallekelle on Sunday that deserve some of the limelight.
Shai Hope and Avishka Fernando don't have big bat sponsorship deals, Indian Premier League contracts or the fanfare their records deserve. So in honour of their runmaking ability - and with the opportunity to watch both with Betfair Live Video streaming the third ODI - we thought it time to give them some column inches.
Hope (the audacity of... springs eternal etcetera) ranks as impressively as Messrs De Kock and Warner for top-bat win rates. Indeed, with his study period approaching three years and a whopping 62 matches, his win rate is arguably the most impressive in the world. Hope cops at 32.2%, De Kock 37% and Warner 30.7%. Rohit Sharma, considered the king of the market, has a 36% win rate.
The opener is a consistent and ever-present threat as opener for West Indies, this despite numerous upheaval with a raft of partners; Evin Lewis, Sunil Ambris, Chris Gayle for example. He has top scored twice already in the series against Sri Lanka, with 51 in Hambantota and 115 in Colombo. He averages 58 with nine centuries and 16 fifties. It is a phenomenal record.
Why doesn't he get the credit he deserves? Well, Sportsbook are well aware of his potency and they are quite right to make him jolly for most Windies runs on Sunday. The 11/5 is a smidge of value given implied probability of 31.3%. Maybe Hope would get more attention if he gave himself a self-congratulatory moniker or tried to smash every ball out of the park because quick singles was beneath, and beyond, him.
The star is bright, Fernando
Fernando is the Sri Lanka favourite. He is less secure at the head of the betting with a disappointing three wins and one tie in his 17-game career. But there is a burgeoning file of evidence that he is just beginning to establish himself as one of the best of his generation.
Those with good memories will recall Fernando taking 14 off a Jofra Archer in the World Cup last summer. In between the first four and first six, Archer nearly put him on his backside with a rapid bouncer. Fernando's response proved he has plenty of ticker.
He is a hand-speed and eye hitter, the sort who is going to go big plenty of time in Asia, Australia and West Indies. But might not look so hot on a green seamer in New Zealand, South Africa or England. He is not a man for much foot movement and his best efforts will be tempered by frustrating knocks when he nicks an early one with feet rooted. But they used to say that about a bloke called Sehwag.
Sportsbook are on to him. They go 3/1 that he tops in the third game. It's a price that is a reaction to his century in Hambantota and fifty in Colombo. Perhaps when he plants those feet a few times we can move in on chunkier odds.
Sri Lanka are as skinny as 1/2 to claim a three-nil sweep with West Indies 13/8. The latter price is a wager with a caveat, Windies have to chase. In 21 day-night matches at the venue, 14 have been won by the side fielding first. That's a 66.6% bias over a healthy study period.
Importantly, West Indies are better at chasing than defending. They don't win often so a record of 12 wins from their last 24 bowling first is keenly noted.
Another price of note is the 11/2 about Nic Pooran top scoring. That would qualify as a Hawk Eye wager because of a bigger implied probability edge in his favour over Hope.
Top West Indies bat wins/matches
Lewis 7 1t/37
S Ambris 2/10
Top West Indies bowler wins/matches
Holder 6 6t/56
Cottrell 6 2t/29
Joseph 5 6t/24
Paul 3 2t/18
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