Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
Australia v West Indies | 2nd Test | 26-30 December | Melbourne Cricket Ground
The 'Baggy Greens' are already a game up in the series courtesy of an innings victory in the first test. Can the Windies throw a counter-punch or are they already out for the count?
To Win Match
West Indies 20/1
Mitchell Johnson may have retired from the international Test scene, but this Australian bowling attack still looks lethal. The two James - Hazelwood and Pattison - tore through the West Indian batting line-up and ended the match with 12 wickets between them. They were well supported by Nathan Lyon, with the spinner ending the first Test with three wickets to his name.
Like their bowlers, the Australian top order batsmen put in magnificent displays in their first and only innings. While Warner and Burns laid the platform at the top of the innings with solid knocks - Warner made 64 while Burns chipped in with 33. The real stars were Adam Voges and Shaun Marsh. Voges would end the innings on 269 not out while Marsh made 182 before being caught by Bravo.
So a brilliant all-round performance sees the Aussies go one up in the series with two games left to play. They've also had some good news - not that they really need any - with Usman Khawaja set to return after a month on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury. The left-handed batsmen is coming back into the national fold off the back of a hundred in the Big Bash and will be raring to finish 2015 on a high.
Well, I didn't think it was possible but West Indian cricket has reached a new low. Forget the endless contract disputes between the WICB and it's contracted players, ignore the egomania that runs rampant through the squad, the inability of this current crop to fight for a badge that represents a proud history of cricketing excellence should be the major concern for West Indian fans, selectors and players alike.
Having lost the toss, the West Indians knew they would have to pick up a few early sticks to curtail what is fast becoming the strongest batting line-up in Test cricket. Kemar Roach and James Taylor were entrusted with this task. The openers were as threatening as a chihuahua with a pink bow on its head, however. The duo returned economy rates in excess of six runs per over and couldn't even conjure up a wicket in the first innings. While those stats are enough to make a bowling coach tear his hair out, the way the two strike bowlers seemed to just take on the chin would have the teams bowling mentor - if they actually had one - sending his C.V out to prospective employers.
The Windies bowlers weren't the only ones to put in an abysmal showing. Their batsmen were as lily-livered as their compatriots. When the opposition sets a score of 533 runs in their first innings, every batting line-up worth it salt knows that the aim of the game is to eat up as many overs as possible. The Windies batsmen obviously didn't get to that particular chapter of " Cricket for Dummies" though. Instead of employing a good old defensive mindset, the Islanders top order thought they'd be better served approaching their first innings as if it were a limited overs game. Needless to say, they got nowhere near the Aussies' total and were forced to bat again due to the hosts enforcing the follow on. Their second innings followed an almost identical script to their first with rash shots seeing the Windies bowled out for a demoralising 148.
There's a line in Shakespeare's Hamlet, where the young prince declares "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" when referring to the corruption that is rampant in the kingdom, well the West Indian cricket board could well be seen as the unrighteous court in this case. And whilst there are mitigating circumstances, the majority of the blame has to fall squarely at the feet of the WICB's chief, Whycliffe Cameron, and his cohorts.
When you take on one of the best sides in the world, you have to field your strongest XI.
The traditional venue for Australia's Boxing Day test will once again be packed with near on 100 000 Australian cricket fans come the 26th of December. Known for its festive atmosphere and a deck that tends to have a bit in it for both the bowlers and batsmen, the MCG is arguably the most iconic stadium in World Cricket.
Its been somewhat of a fortress for the 'Baggy Greens', who have only lost one of the last five Tests played there. And the signs definitely point to the hosts adding another win to that record.
Verdict: Top Batsman Australia - Dave Warner 5/2
With not much on offer for an outright victory for Australia, I'd recommend backing Dave Warner to top the scoring for Australia in the first innings.
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