West Indies v England First T20 Betting: Tourists can hit back
Ed Hawkins says two well-matched sides could be split by the toss at Gros Islet on Tuesday night...
"Punters might find it a struggle to get with them at prohibitive odds when they have been used to rich pickings, particularly as this is the most unpredictable format of the lot"
West Indies v England
Tuesday 5 March, 20:00
TV; live on Sky Sports
Gayle force again
West Indies are cock-a-hoop after a sensational 2-2 draw in the ODI series. The ninth-ranked team in the world exposed the No 1 and the hosts are delighted to have blown several holes in the World Cup favourites' armour.
Of the three formats to be played on tour, this is actually their strongest suit. They are rated at No 7 in the world. Their recent record is not good - it's two wins in last eight. Forgive us, though, if we don't get hung up on that considering the regard with which they've held the formbook.
For a start Chris Gayle is available. Gayle, who destroyed England's bowling in the ODI, has not played for the Windies since May last year. Jason Holder, the talisman, leads and he is joined by Andre Russell, one of the most powerful all-rounders in the world.
The loss of Evin Lewis, their highest rankled batter according to the ICC, is a blow but the likes of Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer will no doubt worry England.
The problem will come in the field. Four of their top five wicket-takers - Kesrick Williams, Keemo Paul, Sunil Narine and Samual Badree - in the last two years are absent. Holder, Carlos Brathwaite and Sheldon Cottrell will have to step up.
Gun players absent
England are not at full strength, either. They have decided to rest Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes with the Indian Premier League starting at the end of the month where they will play for Rajasthan Royals. Moeen Ali is also given time off.
That means that Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow are likely to open the batting. There is no Jason Roy, who has returned home for the birth of his child. Dawid Malan and Sam Billings are the beneficiaries while Joe Root will hope to repair his reputation after a poor series in the Big Bash.
Joe Denly could make an appearance, too, with his spinners proving useful. Otherwise England will lean heavily on Adil Rashid, who is their top wicket-taker in the last two years, the express Mark Wood and a clutch of specialists in Liam Plunkett, Chris Jordan, the Curran brothers and David Willey.
Chasers to the fore
The last five scores in T20 matches (including domestic) at Gros Islet (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first): 204-1/140-2/69-1/226-1/212-2. Those who bet on the Caribbean Premier League will know, however, that there is a toss bias at play. It stands at 64% for the chaser in the last 25 games. In 12 internationals this is backed up but only slightly with a 7/5 split. Teams have a higher average per wicket and run rate in the second innings. This will be the first international at the venue for seven years.
Take a chance on tourists
For the first time on tour, West Indies are favourites in a match. They are rated no better than [1.78] with England [2.26].
Punters might find it a struggle to get with them at prohibitive odds when they have been used to rich pickings, particularly as this is the most unpredictable format of the lot. But then England are hardly suggesting this is a priority by sending two of their best players away.
Help can come from the toss. We'd like that comfort rug. The chaser should have an advantage and if that's England they're a fair pick. They are nowhere near as good in this version as they are in ODI - a 6/7 record in the last two years - but they are likely to find batting second easier just as they do in 50 overs.
In short, we fail to see why the gulf in odds is so big and although we don't disagree the hosts should be favourites they can't be classed as value.
Russell a standout
Gayle is no better than 2/1 for top-bat honours for West Indies with Sportsbook. That's mighty short even if he has been launching the ball into space with regularity. In terms of numbers he has little to beat, though, with Hetmyer and Hope returning 77 in eight matches and 173 in nine respectively. Russell could well be the value pick. With a strike rate of 193 in his last four he makes Gayle look slow.
Morgan catches eye
At the top of the charts Roy has 374 runs in the last two years and Buttler, in third, 317. The meat in the sandwich is Hales with 348 in 12 innings. He will expect to go well considering he is the main man in their absence. No surprise that Betfair Sportsbook rate him 11/4 favourite for top England bat. Bairstow is 10/3 while Eoin Morgan catches the eye at 7/2.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back England batting second at [2.10] or better (1pt)