West Indies v Australia
Thursday 15 July, 00:30
TV: live on BT Sport
Windies power on
West Indies have an unassailable 3-0 lead so, with one eye on the fast-approaching World T20, it might be time to test their bench strength. Keep an eye out for late additions to the squad. Not that Chris Gayle will be easily convinced to step aside.
Gayle roared back into form after a lean period to set up the victory in game three. His 67 from 38 in the chase was pivotal and won him the man of the match award. Afterwards the 42-year-old said the doubters should show more respect. Maybe but it was hard not to notice he’d not made a T20i half-century for five years.
Oshane Thomas would be unfortunate not to get a game considering Fidel Edwards is out of the last two matches with an arm injury. The Windies pace attack looked a little light with only Sheldon Cottrell and Obed McCoy able to get it down at a decent lick. But that just served as a reminder as to how West Indies want to get at the Aussies.
Evin Lewis could replace one of the opening duo (Lendl Simmons or Andre Fletcher). Kieron Pollard is expected to miss out again with a hamstring injury.
Probable XI Simmons, Lewis, Gayle, Pooran, Hetmyer, Bravo, Russell, Allen, Walsh, Thomas, Cottrell
Australia need shake-up
Few sides in the world quite live up to their data reputation as Australia. Decent starters up front with the bat in the powerplay only to lose their way horribly, often in the face of spin. It keeps happening in this series and it will continue to happen.
Australia have been skinny favourites when one or both of openers Matthew Wade and Aaron Finch have looked dangerous. The collapses after that have been spectacular. From 41 without loss in the fifth they were soon struggling at 80 for four in the 12th. We reiterate: no side in the world scores slower than Australia from Nos 5-7.
At least they picked Ashton Tunrer, a finisher. They also shoehorned another in there for good measure, Alex Carey at No 4. The mind boggles. One from Ben McDermott or Josh Philippe given licence at No 3 would have sufficed.
Ashton Agar has been dropped which is an odd call on a slow surface. They take one step forward and then two back. They may as well use the last two games to have a look at his brother Wes instead of Mitchell Starc. Mitch Swepson is another spin option for consideration.
Possible XI Wade, Finch, Philippe, M Marsh, Henriques, Turner, Christian, W Agar, Meredith, Zampa, Hazlewood
This is a tacky wicket which hinders strokemakers when the field is in. Well, when Australia are batting. West Indies have posted 196 thanks to Andre Russell’s extraordinary power in game two and they chased at 9.5 an over in game three thanks to Gayle. Clearly the teams are playing on different wickets.
Australia didn’t muster a run rate above 7.25 in two matches while in the first they were razed for 127. A strategy of going under 140 is fair enough on the main runs line. But we could also be canny – as we were in game three – when waiting to short them. That run quote comes up steeply if Wade or Finch can get a few boundaries away.
Odds will go the same way
Likewise we can be canny on match odds. Australia’s odds contract sharply in the powerplay with the bat. But they’re unlikely to post either something challenging or get over the line in a chase.
Let’s not forget that Australia hit 1.011/100 in the first match before they folded like wet cardboard. At the moment West Indies are 1.824/5 and Australia 2.166/5. It’s surprising the market is not keener on the hosts.
Still, asking for even money about the West Indies batting first is one wager. Another is betting them at flipped odds with a quick Australia start in the first dig.
Gayle has been boosted from 11/4 to 10/3 for top West Indies bat by Sportsbook. But we’re rarely keen on following the money with a back-to-back winner. Simmons at 16/5 and Lewis at 7/2 look overpriced with the advantage of opening the batting.
Wade and Finch both gets 16/5 quotes. Mitchell Marsh, who has been terrific, is 7/2. We’ll have another dart on Turner, who has been hiked to 10/1.
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