England v West Indies
Live on Sky Sports
England in a muddle
England have been planning for this tournament since their 50-over World Cup triumph. But they may need to be flexible if they are going to ‘unite the belts’.
Dropping Eoin Morgan, the captain, picking Tymal Mills, batting Moeen Ali as high as possible and even considering switching Jos Buttler to a finisher to get Jonny Bairstow opening are all moves that give them their best shot.
If we could say here and now they do all that, then we’d probably back them to win it. But they need a defeat or two to shock them into action.
They are the most aggressive batting unit and that is a major plus. But can they do it on surfaces that don’t suit their style?
Probable XI: Roy, Buttler, Malan, Bairstow, Moeen, Livingstone, Morgan, Woakes, Jordan, Rashid, Wood
A late shuffle for West Indies. Fabian Allen’s ankle injury has ruled him out of the tournament. He has been replaced by SLA Akeal Hossein. It’s an improvement to their balance.
West Indies, like England, have great intent with the bat. To counter slow surfaces they will slot in Roston Chase at No 4 to anchor the innings.
With the ball, however, the Windies are potentially profligate. They just don’t boast a single gun bowler capable of striking fear into the opposition. Against Afghanistan they conceded 189. They need to pick Hossein sooner rather than later to give them much-needed con-trol.
Probable XI: Lewis, Simmons, Gayle, Chase, Pollard, Pooran, Russell, Bravo, Walsh, Thomas, Rampaul
In 13 games in the second leg of the IPL in Dubai, there was a 69% toss bias for the chaser. With this match under lights, we expect the toss to be crucial. In day-night games in the tournament, 17 of 25 were won by the chaser.
As for runs, the first-innings average was 156. We would expect both teams to go close to busting that. England and West Indies are ranked at Nos 1 and 2 on our boundary percentage list. They are also second and first for boundaries in the first powerplay. There was also a heavy bias for the side batting second to score the most runs in the powerplay.
With those numbers in mind the 6/4 that both teams score 150 or more has appeal. If the runs par line is pitched in the mid-150s that would be a buy.
England to chase anything
We’re looking to be cheeky on the match odds market. We want to be on England in the chase but we want a bigger price.
So we’ll keep our fingers crossed that they can drift with a fast start from the West Indies. Pre-toss it would be crazy to be betting either team – England are 1.758/11 with West Indies 2.305/4.
Losing the toss would be a disaster for the Windies. They have the worst win-loss ration batting first in the last three years of any top team. We expect England to have a right go at chasing anything up to 200.
Kieron Pollard is always a favourite of ours at 6/1 because he is in the top five of the batters with the highest boundary percentage hitters. But so too is Evin Lewis and 3/1 and Andre Russell at 15/2. Bairstow could well make hay – so long as Hossein doesn’t play – as the Windies attack perfectly suits his game. He is 4/1. He is also 17/2 for top match bat and 10/1 for man of the match.