Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
The Super 10 stage of the World T20 is drawing to a close but there are still some vital clashes taking place. The first fixture on Sunday is a dead rubber between the West Indies, who secure their qualification for the semi-finals with a three-wicket over South Africa on Friday evening, and an Afghan outfit who have already been knocked out. While the second fixture is a virtual quarter-final that will see a struggling Indian outfit take on an Australian side who seems to be hitting their straps at just the right time.
West Indies 1/7 | Draw 35/1 | Afghanistan 5/1
The men from the islands seem to relish these T20 World Cups. While they possess some of the greatest T20 exponents in the game, the West Indians have been culpable of shooting themselves in the foot. How many times have we seen the explosive Christopher Gayle throw his wicket away trying to go big from ball one? Far too many in my opinion. The big man has been a lot more circumspect at this tournament. Instead of going hard from ball one, the belligerent left-hander has looked to get his eye in and then accelerate once he’s acclimatised to the conditions.
While Gayle failed to make a big impact with the bat against the South Africans on Friday evening, he did contribute with the ball. Having not turned his arm over in quite some time, Gayle showed no signs of rust on a slow turning deck. The West Indian talisman – brought into the attack due to two left-handed being at the crease – made an immediate impact by dismissing Rilee Roussouw in his first over. He would go on to claim the wicket of the dangerous Dave Miller and return figures of 2 for 17 in his three-over spell and ensure the South Africans would post a modest total of 122.
While Gayle starred with the ball, Marlon Samuels was the Windies hero with the bat. His composed 46 run innings helped steady what was a wobbly old West Indian batting innings. And while he did lose his wicket late in the piece, his lower order was able to see them across the line.
When you talk about the Afghan’s performances at the tournament, you can’t help but focus on their wicket keeper Mohammad Shahzad. The belligerent right hander is currently the second highest run scorer at the tournament. He’s averaged 33 runs per inning and has a strike rate of 145.8. His fearless approach to batting has seen him become one of the most popular players at the tournament.
If the Afghans are to challenge the West Indies they are not only going to need Shahzad to fire, but they will also require their spinners to come to the party. Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi have been in fantastic form. The duo have taken 19 wickets between them. They have also returned decent economy rates of 6.54 and 6.00 respectively. If they can strangle the West Indian top order, then they may be in with a shout of defeating what could be a rather complacent West Indian outfit.
I suspect that the Windies will opt to rotate for this one with their qualification for the semi-finals secured. Chris Gayle may be one of the men rested as he has struggled with niggly injuries since the turn of the year. The Afghans are likely to field their strongest possible squad in a bid to get their first win in the Super 10 phase.
Verdict: Mohammad Shahzad – Top Afghanistan Batsmen 3/1
With little on offer for a Windies win, I would recommend backing Mohammad Shahzad to top score for the Afghans at 3/1.
India 6/10 | Draw 35/1 | Australia 13/10
This is definitely the game of the tournament thus far. Both sides require a win to advance to the semi-finals, essentially making this a quarter-final in all but name.
The Australians come into this one off the back of an impressive display against Pakistan that saw them run out victors by 21 runs. Their impressive total of 193 was mainly due to the exploits of Steve Smith. The right-hander played the anchor role for the majority of his side’s batting innings but came to life in the final few overs of the Australian batting innings. He was well supported by the mercurial Glen Maxwell and the belligerent Shane Watson.
While the Australian’s had a rather comfortable match last time out, the Indians struggled to victory over Bangladesh. The host nation will be counting their lucky stars after that encounter as they were second favourites for the most part. It got to the point where Bangladesh only required 2 runs off the final three balls but a horror show from the Bangladeshi lower order saw the Indians claim a vital victory.
The Indians will feel rather confident heading into this one. They recently beat the Australians in a three-match T20 series ‘down under’ and they will be playing in front of their vociferous homes support. They're going to need their batsmen to step up to the plate however as their performances at the tournament have been well bellow par.
Verdict: Australia 13/10
Despite the Indians playing in their own backyard, I fancy the Australians. They have a batting line-up that contains a lot of players who are in a rich vein of form whilst most of the Indian batsmen are struggling to live up to their billing. Back the Australians to get the business done at 13/10.
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