Ed Hawkins gets the stats sheet out to work out how best to make a slow wicket pay on Tuesday in Guyana...
"The reason for the bias is probably a failure on the team batting first to work out what is a good total. They either go too hard too fast or too slow looking to keep wickets intact for a blast at the end"
Expect five-over crawl
Seasoned Caribbean Premier League (CPL) watchers know that runs will be hard to come by when West Indies and India meet in this dead rubber. Sticky, stodgy and slow are the words which do the Guyana National Stadium justice.
The Amazon Warriors, the home CPL team, made use of the tacky surface to make it all the way to the final where they were beaten by Trinbago Knight Riders. They expertly used the spin of Imran Tahir, who claimed 16 wickets with an economy rate of just 5.9, to squeeze the life out of teams.
In all T20 there is a hefty toss bias. It stands at 71% for the chaser. That sort of stat would ordinarily lend itself to a belter of a batting wicket which just gets better and better as the game wears on. Not so at Providence.
The reason for the bias is probably a failure on the team batting first to work out what is a good total. They either go too hard too fast or too slow looking to keep wickets intact for a blast at the end. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Not surprisingly the first-innings averages are low at just 135, as discussed in the match preview. A lay on the runs market is a possibility. But how best to make use of the stodge?
One price that catches the eye is the five-over runs market. Sportsbook go over or under 39.5 at 4/5 and 11/10 respectively. In the 2018 COPL the returns in Providence games were as follows: 26-45-40-37-23. That's an average of 34. Given the consistent low scores it would be folly to go overs, particularly if India were to bowl first.
India could field up to three spinners and West Indies could be caught between two stools. They're not the sort of team who can be canny with the bat one feels and a gung-ho approach could result in a cluster of wickets meaning they'll have to drop anchor.
Tops a jigsaw
Three of the four tops markets are hard to decipher. India are expected to make further changes to their bowling line-up and the study size for West Indies top-bat and bowler is unconvincing.
With Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuz Chahal not involved at all for India, that takes a bite out of our data. Those three were responsible for almost half (24) the top bowler wins for India in the last two years. Bhuv Kumar is available but he has only two wins in 22 so the 7/2 from Sportsbook does not excite.
West Indies' tops are puzzling. This is because few players have played the bulk of their games in the last two years. We'd like to get with Rovman Powell for top bat, for example. But he has played only 14 times and our qualifying period is 20 ordinarily. Evin Lewis has three wins in nine but he has looked badly out of touch and the 3s will be swerved.
Sheldon Cottrell is a coming force with the ball but the story is the same. It's three wins in eight. We'll come back in a year and get involved.
So that leaves top India bat. We expect changes to the line-up but Virat Kohli should still lead. He has a 30% hit rate. We've bet him twice so we go in again with the edge in our favour at 11/4. Our match preview has also tipped Kohli so we're doubling stakes on the great man because, on our numbers, he is overdue.
There's a also a strong chance that one - possibly two - of his main rivals could be rested. Rohit Sharma and or Shikhar Dhawan could make way with India keen to test bench strength.
2019 - points p-l: +45.77 (87.5 points staked)
2018 - points p-l: +9.86 (89 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)