West Indies v Australia
Tuesday 20 July 19.30
TV: live on BT Sport
West Indies will feel buoyant after taking down Australia in the T20 series. But it could be misplaced. They are not as powerful a unit as they are in the shorter format.
For a start, skipper Kieron Pollard is surely a doubt having missed each of the T20s with a hamstring. It would seem risky to jeopardise the big man with the World T20 approaching. Shai Hope, the vice-captain, will lead in his absence.
The Windies have added specialists, like Hope, to the squad. Alzarri Joseph, the pacer, batter Darren Bravo and all-round pair Jason Mohammed and Roston Chase are notable inclusions.
They have an interesting call to make with regard to spin. Do they go for Fabian Allen and lengthen the batting or pick Akeal Hossein?
Probable XI Hope, Lewis, Bravo, Hetmyer, Pooran, Mohammed, Chase, Allen, Holder, Joseph, Cottrell
This is an experimental Australia squad. None of their big-name players are available: Aaron Finch, Steve Smith, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins. Finch has an injury and that could be his tour over.
Alex Carey leads an inexperienced side and he is likely to lean heavily on senior bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc. At least they have strong strength in depth with the white ball. Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa and Jason Behrendorff complete a decent unit.
But their batting is a major worry. Josh Philippe (yet to play an ODI) and Matthew Wade may have to open. Carey, and two from Ashton Turner and Ben McDermott (another debutant) will have to fit around Mitchell Marsh, the one player the Windies will worry about. Moises Henriques or Dan Christian are up for the all-rounder slot. Mind you, Australia could pick both given their muddled thinking currently.
Probable XI Wade, Philippe, M Marsh, Carey, Turner, Henriques, A Agar, Starc, Hazlewood, Behrendorff, Zampa
There have been only five ODI at Bridgetown in the last five years. On run rate, par is 275 so that should be the marker for runs wagers. In 2019 West Indies and England played out two cracking matches. England chased 360 with ease but then flopped going after 290 a couple of days later. More recently, Ireland were beaten batting first when posting 237.
Under lights there is no toss bias but there have been only eight day-night games. Early indications are that the surface is hard and flat so batsmen should dominate. No rain is forecast.
West Indies worth an interest
One side is at full-strength. The other is not. But such is the mistrust for West Indies to perform that they are barely favourites. They are 1.9720/21 with Australia 2.021/1.
Covid has thrown up mismatches all over the world and, at the moment, it has not paid to take on the stronger unit. Surely the Windies have enough in their locker? After the World Cup they have managed only a series win against a weak Sri Lanka in outings against the top table side. If the Windies can't win this encounter then they may as well pack up.
In the T20 series the Aussies struggled once the powerplay was over, batsmen getting bogged down as the hosts squeezed expertly. We expect more of the same. Indeed, even a full-strength Australia have looked an average side when chasing away from home.
An in-play strategy is to take on Australia after a good start. We'd be happy to lay them all day going after, say, 270 from a strong starting position.
Mitchell Marsh is 7/2 for top Australia runscorer and after his brilliant form in the T20 (he finished as top series bat) few would argue that he has stiff competition. Turner at 6/1 in the middle-order is an option.
For West Indies Shai Hope will be well-backed at 16/5. He is a terrifically reliable. Evin Lewis is boosted to 4/1. Mohammaed is an interesting option at 4/1 but we're unsure where he will bat. It could be high as four.
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