When you look at the performances of the two sides in the group stages of this T20 World Cup cricket tournament, it suggests the meeting of England and the West Indies is closely matched (2.30pm BST, Thursday Sept 27).
England followed a comfortable victory with their worst ever defeat in this format of the game. Persistent rain in Colombo meant that the West Indies were unable to complete either of their opening matches.
The bookmakers are certainly finding it tough and some are offering the same 10/11 price on both sides for the win.
In their opening contest with Afghanistan, England completed an emphatic victory by 116 runs in a game that was memorable for Luke Wright’s blistering score of 99 not out. With India looking lacklustre against the Afghans, Stuart Broad’s men were confident of victory when they tackled the Indians on Sunday but somehow managed to succumb to their heaviest defeat in T20s.
England were undone by spin and while Sunil Narine is the only world class slow bowler in the West Indian side, Marlon Samuels is a useful part-time off spinner who could also have a big part to play in this game. If England are to take the victory, they will have to play the slow men in a far more positive and effective manner than they did last time out.
As for the West Indies, rain has curtailed both of their matches so far and they have only batted as a side once. Against Australia however, Chris Gayle made a positive start to the tournament with nine boundaries in a 33-ball 54, while the opener received excellent support down the order from Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo.
Meanwhile, the bowling hasn’t been quite so effective and that would suggest that the key once again is a powerful start from Gayle. Expect a big total from the Windies batsman whether they are setting a target or chasing one down.
It’s worth remembering that these two sides met in a one-off T20 at Trent Bridge in June. In that match, England had a clear plan to bowl short at Gayle and that worked when the big Jamaican holed out to long leg for just two.
The home side went on to win that game with just two balls to spare but 99 from Alex Hales ensured a seven wicket win which was ultimately a comfortable one. Whether the slower nature of the Sri Lankan pitches will allow England to use that bouncer ploy against Gayle here seems doubtful but it’s clear that he represents the biggest threat to Broad and his men.
Worryingly, the weather forecast for Pallekele is poor for the next few days and that could lead to another shortened match. That will make it even harder to predict but if the game does go the full 40 overs, some power hitting from Gayle and his colleagues together with a fragile English batting line up would suggest that the Windies can take the points here.
England v Windies Betting Tip: West Indies to win @ Evens with Stan James Bookmaker.