Ed Hawkins gives the home side the edge in a blockbuster T20 from St Lucia early on Saturday...
"With the chase on their side, Windies are a dangerous opponent. It is their preferred method and with the bias in play we'd back them"
West Indies v Australia
Saturday 10 July, 00:30
TV: live on BT Sport
Worrying about Windies
West Indies are likely to be feeling somewhat chastened after a surprise 3-2 reverse at home to South Africa. Considered serious contenders to defend their World T20 title, they were undone by South Africa's pace and spin attack.
And that turned focus on their own bowling shortcomings. We all know West Indies have muscle potential with the bat but where is the world-class spinner who can tie an end down for four overs? Or the second one for that matter? They may need to rely on Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard taking pace off the ball. Hayden Walsh, a Caribbean Premier League match-winner two tournaments ago, may return to the side. Jason Holder is also in contention.
Shimron Hetmyer and Nic Pooran are likely to be given a full run ahead of the World Cup. Both have had disappointing returns. Evin Lewis has been in terrific nick in the opening berth, however.
Possible XI Lewis, Fletcher, Gayle, Pollard, Hetmyer, Russell, Pooran, Holder, Allen, Bravo, Edwards
Australia are not at full-strength. David Warner, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins, who would all be expected to start in the World T20, have not travelled.
So they are a bit of a hotch-potch crew. Aaron Finch leads again and is certain to open. But who will join him? Matthew Wade or Josh Philippe? Both scored well in an intra-squad match. Mitchell Marsh, at No 3, also got runs. There is some suggestion Philippe will bat at No 6, which just shows the sort of muddled thinking that could damn Australia's campaign. Philippe is an opener, not a finisher. They have one of the latter in Ashton Turner.
All-rounders Moises Henriques and Dan Christian are expected to play, allowing Australia to pair two pacers in Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood with spinners Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa. The spin department is Australia's greatest strength.
Possible XI Finch, Wade, Marsh, Henriques, McDermott, Philippe, Christian, A Agar, Starc, Hazlewood, Zampa
The Darren Sammy Stadium surface in St Lucia has been fantastic for batting. In the last 12 matches, 160 or more has been busted seven times. And the track holds up well, too with eight of those won by the chaser.
The first-innings runs over/under line is expected to be around the 165 mark. With a run rate of 8.9 in the last three years batting first Australia should bust that mark. West Indies are trickier to call. They have actually only batted first four times since August 2019. But when they do they go well. Their scores read: 167-196-207-164.
On the first-innings runs market, it may pay to expect late hitting from the West Indies. But not Australia, who struggle for acceleration. Windies could take 40 or 50 off the death overs and you can get big prices by factoring in those numbers.
Go with the hosts
West Indies are 2.1211/10 outsiders with Australia 1.8810/11. Given the respective batting power of the two units, we're surprised the hosts are not favoured.
To clarify, by that we mean Australia have terrible problems from Nos 5-7. They have the worst strike rate of any of the Big Boys since the last World Cup. On a tacky, turning surface that could put them in trouble in a chase. We don't expect that but bear it in mind in-play.
With the chase on their side, Windies are a dangerous opponent. It is their preferred method and with the bias in play we'd back them.
Mitch Marsh was cut from a crazy 17/1 to 10/3 for top Aussie bat by Sportsbook. Finch and Wade, the probable opening pair, go off at 13/5 and 16/5.
Chris Gayle and Lewis can't be split at 10/3 favourite status. Lendl Simmons, in a jostle with Andre Fletcher to join the latter in the opening slot is 7/2. Fletcher is toppy at 4/1 because if he plays, he opens.
Decoding Australia's T20 failings on Cricket...Only Bettor
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye column p-l