The West Indies and South Africa kick-off the Tri-Nations series with the first ODI at Guyana.
In a bit of a throwback to the nineties and early noughties, cricket fans will be treated to a month-long Tri-Nations series set to be contested between South Africa, Australia and the West Indies.
The first match of the series will pit the Proteas against the men from the Caribbean in what should be an explosive contest at the Providence Stadium in Guyana. Can AB de Villiers and his men bounce back after a disappointing 2015/16 campaign or will the West Indies continue to build following their heroics in the World T20 earlier this year? Let’s find out!
To Win Match
West Indies 18/10 | Tie 35/1 | South Africa 9/20
There’s never a dull moment it seems in West Indian cricket. Following their incredible World T20 triumph in India this year, the side – made up of a number of the stars that lifted the trophy in India – have been smashed in their two warm-up games against a Barbados select XI.
While match practice is always the main priority in these sort of games, it stands to reason that a team full of seasoned internationals should be able to cruise past a select XI made up fringe List A players from Barbados. So for the sake of this preview and West Indies fans everywhere, we’ll look ahead from here without touching too much on these warm-up fixtures.
Phil Simmons has a fairly strong squad to select from. Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels make up a powerful, yet wildly inconsistent top order. I have no doubt that if these four guys had the temperament of the South African and Australian top order, they’d be among one of the best batting units in the world.
Unfortunately, however, they give their wickets away far too easily. Rash shots and lapses in concentration are hallmarks of the modern West Indian batsman. You simply can’t approach an ODI in the same way you would a T20 – you’ll often sell yourself short. Simmons’ biggest challenge will be to eradicate this 'attack at all costs' mentality from his batsmen if his side are to do well in this series.
One area where the West Indians do have a bit of an edge is in the bowling department. Sunil Narine and Sulieman Benn are class spinners while the likes of Jerome Taylor and Shannon Gabriel can trouble opposition batsmen with their pace. Whether or not they’ll be able to keep guys like AB de Villiers and David Warner quiet is a whole different story, however.
The team will be looking to captain Jason Holder for leadership. The 24-year-old was thrown into the deep-end from a young age and has prospered in the role. A steady medium-pacer and a strong lower middle order batsman, he possesses an incredibly mature head for someone so young and has received plaudits from a number of West Indian greats such as Brian Lara, Tony Cozier, Viv Richards and Brian Lara.
The Proteas are in a bit of rebuilding phase at the moment and it’s showing. Coach Russell Domingo is under immense pressure at the minute and will be looking to secure his immediate future by lifting the Tri-Series trophy come the end of June.
The South Africans will be looking to lay down a marker against an out of sorts West Indian team. Domingo has picked a strong squad, axing players who haven’t performed consistently over the last 12 months. David Miller has been left at home while Rilee Rossouw gets another crack at the big time. Wayne Parnell has been recalled to the squad after impressing in List A and First Class cricket back home while Tabraiz Shamsi, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, has earned his maiden international call-up.
The Proteas’ strength lies in their top order. AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis are some of the best batsmen on the planet and will be looking to take advantage of a West Indian side who will be low on confidence following their dismal display against the Barbados XI.
De Villiers and de Kock had magnificent IPL campaigns and will be hoping that form translates to success in the upcoming Tri-Series. Amla also had a decent IPL although he only came into the Kings XI Punjab side halfway through the tournament.
While the batting will be under the spotlight a bit, the eyes of the cricketing world will be firmly fixed on Kagiso Rabada. The young South African quick has taken the world by storm over the last year or so, demolishing just about every batting line-up he’s come up against. He will need to be supported by Kyle Abbott and Morne Morkel, both of whom have seen their stock drop slightly off the back of disappointing 2015/16 seasons. Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso will also have roles to play on West Indian decks that often favour the spinners.
Verdict: South Africa 9/20
The Proteas are stronger in every department here and should comfortably beat the West Indies in Guyana on Friday evening. Back de Villiers and co the get the job done at 9/20 – perhaps one to add to your weekend multiples.
Value Bet: A hundred to be scored in the match: Yes at 11/10
There’s a boatload of batting talent on display here and 11/10 represents excellent value. AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock are all in good form and could all help themselves to big scores on Friday.