West Indies v England
Wednesday 26 January 20.00
TV: live on BT Sport
West Indies were pegged back to 1-1 in the five-match series at Bridgetown on Sunday. The one-run margin of defeat flattered them, however.
As Kieron Pollard warned at the start of the series, this Windies team is a work in pro-gress so consistency is one of the last things they'll get right, if at all.
There are promising signs that they are going to be more competitive than Pollard feared, though. Akeal Hosein will have caught the eye with his late hitting but we're more interested in his mean economy rate. He looks like a threat. And Romario Shepherd looks like he has what it takes to be a genuine all-rounder.
Odean Smith didn't bowl in game two. It was unlikely to be a niggle. If not, it would make sense to play a specialist batter instead. Roston Chase, Kyle Mayers and the hard-hitting Rovman Powell are options.
Possible XI: Hope, King, Pooran, Bravo, Pollard, Powell, Holder, Shepherd, Allen, Hosein, Cottrell
Mills a must
England have finally won a game this winter. But don't be fooled, as we said, by the margin. It looks like they squeezed home but Windies could have only won with no balls or wides in the last over.
Still, England probably learnt a lesson. And that is they need Tymal Mills. He was rested after just one game. Saqib Mahmood and Chris Jordan, whose death bowling appears to be in serious decline, were pricey. One would hope England just lost concentration with the hosts needing 61 off the last three.
Surely Liam Livingstone also plays. Livingstone has had a virus but England could well do with his power up front and hitting against spin. His bowling will also be useful..
Possible XI: Roy, Livingstone, Vince, Moeen, Morgan, Billings, Dawson, Jordan, Rashid, Mills, Mahmood
It's another fresh pitch expected for game three. That will cheer England, who like to go hard at the ball. But it appears they heeded the warning from game one (103 all out) when they didn't take their time to assess the pitch.
They were much better at that on Sunday and their score of 171 was impressive. Despite that score we're still inclined to go unders rather than overs. The history of this wicket is one of a hard life for batters. Only twice has 170 been busted in the last 19 T20 games.
We got stung on under 157.5 last time but we could see a jump to 163.5 for this one. It looks a short.
If you want an in-play wager, then expect runs in the last three overs. But wait to check that pacers are operational. It's a wicket which demands pace-off and Eoin Morgan nor Pollard should be worried about bowling a spinner or off-cutter.
England could come up
Batting first in game two before a ball was bowled, England drifted to the 1.9010/11 region. Clearly the market was expecting another struggle for the visitors.
A similar drift from 1.664/6 England would be most welcome. West Indies are 2.466/4. We will keep our fingers crossed that, firstly, Livingstone plays and England bat first.
The problem with Windies batting first if you bet them is that they could drift quickly. We don't expect an all-guns-blazing opening. West Indies know the best way to play is to build a platform and that doesn't make for a collapse in odds. And with wickets also in the mix England could get very skinny, very quickly.
If England continue to show an improvement in the smarts department, they will bowl as much of Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Liam Dawson and Adil Rashid as possible. They can put on an effective squeeze.
Jason Roy won for England at 3/1 in the very next game after we tipped him at 7/2 because it provided the smallest of edge on win rate. He is 3/1 again with a boost by Sportsbook. Shepherd and Hosein, who shared honours in extraordinary fashion, are 25/1 and 100/1 respectively.
Bets at 8/1 and 5/1 in our Hawkeye analysis of the player markets here.
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