West Indies v Sri Lanka
Thursday, 14:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Last chance for Windies
In theory, there is a motivation gap in this match. Sri Lanka are out, but West Indies still retain faint qualification hopes. By the time it starts, they could be extremely faint, if Australia beat Bangladesh by a decent margin. Even if not, they need to win and win well, due to a dire run-rate.
That explains the one-sided betting, with Windies trading at 1.674/6 on the exchange. There really is no other legitimate explanation because, of the two, Sri Lanka have been the better side in this tournament.
Sri Lanka are fair value at pre-match odds
Humiliated by England, easily swept aside by South Africa, Windies only scraped past Bangladesh, requiring a tremendous late slog from Nicholas Pooran. Were it not for a six off the final ball from Kieron Pollard, they would probably have lost. Remember, this is against a Bangladesh side who have come up woefully short against top-class opposition, and even lost to Scotland.
The one bit of good news for Windies in that match was Jason Holder returning to the side, adding depth and power to the batting, and an improved pace option. Nobody bowled with better economy.
Taking a line through those three opponents, Sri Lanka have clearly been superior. They gave England a serious run for their money, chasing a daunting total. They had South Africa on the ropes until a brilliant final over, and beat Bangladesh by a more comfortable margin.
Massive bias to chasers in the afternoon
I do not expect them to roll over here, with pride to play for. However, whilst Windies make absolutely no appeal at 1.674/6, I will swerve an outright bet on Sri Lanka for two reasons. First, the profound toss bias. The chasing side has a massive advantage in afternoon matches. Second, because the latest pitches at Abu Dhabi seemed to favour pace bowlers compared to spinners.
That should offer an advantage to Windies, with Holder and Andre Russell offering the principal threat. The latter bowled really well at the death against Bangladesh, even if he wasn’t supported by the fielding. Bowling late is always an advantage and I’m happy to take 4/1 about Russell to be top wicket taker.
Plenty of runs in afternoon games
The most recent first innings totals at Abu Dhabi were 210, 189, 84, 160, 109 and 124. Evidently, as ever, it depends which pitch is being used and what time of day the matches were played.
The 84 was Bangladesh against South Africa in a morning match. The 189 was registered by Pakistan against Namibia in the afternoon, but the minnows fared pretty well too with 144. India hit the 210 in the afternoon against Afghanistan.
Under the circumstances, I reckon the pre-match run lines are set too low, with 6/4 available about both sides hitting 140, and 13/5 about both reaching 150. Neither bowling attack is fearsome or comparatively economical.
Try Holder for Man of the Match
The general trend of the tournament has seen bowlers dominate the man of the match market. Here I like Holder at 12/1, because he presents a potential match-winning threat with both bat and ball.
In the top runscorer markets, the two enhanced players are Evin Lewis and Kusal Perera, whose odds are boosted to 3/1 and 7/2 respectively.
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