Ed Hawkins previews the final match of the series in St Kitts on Sunday night and warns that both sides could be experimenting...
"Both sides have said they are using the game as World Cup preparation and Malan does not figure in the 50-over plans"
West Indies v England
Sunday 10 March, 20:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Gayle could miss out
West Indies were desperately disappointing in game two in St Kitts, falling to a record low of 45 all out for an ICC full member. Their performance in the field had been similarly chaotic and they wasted a golden chance to level the series.
They were shot favourites when they reduced England to 32 for four. But slowly they lost their grip on the game. Even when they looked like restricting England to 150-odd (eminently gettable on a renowned chasing wicket) they managed an extra level of farce.
Off the final over Obed Thomas, a 22-year-old left-arm pacer on debut, conceded 22. If you'd backed West Indies that would have been hard to stomach.
The bettor always assumes that his team are doing everything in their power to win a game. But sometimes, they throw in an ingenue at a crucial time just so that all concerned can benefit from the experience.
That theme could continue. There is talk of Chris Gayle sitting this one out with John Campbell coming in to see if he can cement a World Cup spot.
Sam Billings's match-turning 87 would have given England's selectors food for thought ahead of the World Cup. He smashed 44 off the final 12 balls to flip everything on his head and the selectors will be pondering whether it's worth drafting him this summer.
More so with the form of Alex Hales proving cause for concern. Hales has one decent score of 82 on tour and has twice failed in the T20s to remind everyone of what he is about. Billings, more versatile than Hales considering he can bat anywhere, has done himself no harm.
England could make changes. But one of them may not be Dawid Malan for one of Joe Root or Eoin Morgan. Both sides have said they are using the game as World Cup preparation and Malan does not figure in the 50-over plans.
Chris Jordan, whose four wickets ruined West Indies, has been excellent. He should squeeze into the World Cup reckoning. He has been rather unfortunate that Jofra Archer's late qualification has earned so much column space. If Jordan had also been playing domestic cricket, tearing it up and biding his time for a chance, he would be similarly rated.
Don't ignore toss bias
This should be played on the same strip as game two. It looked a decent batting wicket even though the clatter of wickets at the start of England's dig and throughout the West Indies' suggested otherwise. Before the capitulation by the hosts it had a 61% toss bias for the chaser. The last six scores read (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent first): 182-1/168-2/206-2/199-1/168-2/143-2.
England in a chase
West Indies are [2.08] and England [1.88]. It will be hard to consider getting with Windies, toss or not in their favour, after the shambolic showing. Even tougher with doubts about Gayle's participation.
England in a chase, then, could well rate a solid bet and [1.80] should still be available. We know that Morgan would have bowled first if he'd have had the opportunity and we don't expect that to change.
Morgan will no doubt dismiss West Indies' batting effort as a one-off although he will be sure now that England have discovered an edge - even if it has taken to the embers of the tour to do so.
No Gayle will cause consternation in the top West Indies bat odds. He is 11/5 (Sportsbook), which is a push out from the 9/4 that he went off at for game two. It is value if he plays. Campbell is 4/1 and that could be considered big about an opener in this format. Shai Hope, strangely subdued historically when Gayle is around, may benefit from being the main man again and he rates at 10/3.
Billings was 11s for top England bat and that price holds. True, England's top order is unlikely to be blown away in the same fashion but the acceleration Billings showed suggests it's worth a nibble. Hales is 3/1, Jonny Bairstow is 10/3. Malan, with four fifties in five appearances and a strike rate of 150, is a bet at 7/2 but we don't expect him to play. Money back if not.
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 [1.80]