Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
West Indies vs England | Sunday 3 April | Eden Gardens | 15:30
After a pulsating two weeks of World T20 cricket which has seen some seismic results and brutal displays of power-hitting, we’re left with just two teams – England and the West Indies.
Can the unfancied English spring a massive surprise by winning the tournament or will the West Indies claim their second World T20 title in three attempts? Let’s find out!
To Win Match
West Indies 8/10 | Draw 35/1 | England 1/1
In many ways, England have been the surprise package of this year’s World T20. They came into the showpiece event off the back of an absolute hiding in South Africa following their massively successful Test showing against the Proteas.
Their bowling has been average at best throughout the tournament, with the seamers offering far too much width in the power play overs and their spinners struggling to land the ball in the right areas. Where Trevor Bayliss’ charges have been good though is with the bat. Their top order have been absolutely devastating. They’ve targeted the first six overs with Alex Hales and Jason Roy going absolutely berserk in the power play. As much was evident against the Proteas where the two piled on 44 runs in the first six overs – if England are to win the completion, Hales and Roy will have massive roles to play.
It’s not only the opening pair have been in fine fettle in the last two weeks. The rest of the top and middle order have put in some monumental shifts. Jos Buttler took the English over the line in their semi-final against New Zealand with a magnificent 20-ball 32 while Joe Root and Eoin Morgan have been solid throughout.
The biggest problem that the English face leading into the final is their misfiring bowling attack. Reece Topley was dropped in the semi-final for Liam Plunkett, however, the Yorkshireman didn’t fare particularly well, conceding 38 runs from his 4 overs. I do think the Plunkett will crack the nod again for the final as Topley has looked well and truly at sea during the tournament so far. Chris Jordan has probably been the pick of the English bowlers. Aside from a poor display against the Proteas, he’s been almost faultless. His ability to hit the blockhole on a consistent basis will make it difficult for the West Indian batsmen to get underneath the ball. He will be especially effective against Chris Gayle, who has wobbled a bit against fast in-swinging Yorkers of late.
All in all, England have an excellent chance of claiming the spoils here. If their opening combination fires and the bowlers can tear pick up a few early wickets, they could well go on to claim their second World T20 title.
The West Indies will take a lot of confidence from their opening fixture of the tournament where they cantered home against the English, winning by six wickets with 11 balls to spare. Chris Gayle was the destroyer-in-chief that day on an absolute road of pitch in Mumbai. The big Jamaican smashed a 48-ball 100 as the Windies cruised to a win.
The Islanders also overcame a vastly talented Indian side in their semi-final to book their place at Eden Gardens. Having been set 192 to win, they lost two wickets early on before Johnson Charles and Lendl Simmons steadied the ship with scores of 52 and 82 before Andre Russell showed us just how belligerent he can be with the bat, smashing 43 off just 20 balls.
Chris Gayle has shown a bit of a weakness in the last two games when the ball is pitched up to him. Kagiso Rabada did him with a full one in the Super 10 phase of the competition after which he was castled by a beautiful in-swinging Yorker from Ashish Nehra in the semi-final. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Chris Jordan given an over or two up front just to see if he can remove the big man early on.
The West Indian spinners are going to need to continue their form in order to keep a dangerous English line-up quiet in the middle overs. Somewhat surprisingly, Sulieman Benn and Samuel Badree have been nothing short of magnificent in the tournament so far. They’ve starved the opposition of runs while making breakthroughs at vital junctures. This is especially surprising as I identified the two as potential weaknesses in the West Indian attack, however, they seem to have peaked at just the right time and could lead their side to glory on Sunday.
The Windies are favourites to claim the title on Sunday, and with good reason. Their bowling attack has been more potent throughout the competition and their batting line-up in comprised of five or six match-winners. Much will come down to whether or not they can strangle the English openers in the first six overs.
Verdict: England to make the highest six over score: 9/10
There are no opening pairs in world cricket right now that are more dangerous than Jason Roy and Alex Hales. The two go hard from ball one, taking full advantage of the fielding restrictions imposed by the power play. This, coupled with Chris Gayle’s propensity to start quite slowly makes this a fairly safe bet.
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