West Indies v India
Wednesday 14 August 14.30
Live on Sky Sports
Gayle has to go nuts
West Indies must be counting the days to head north and get away from the turgid surfaces of, first Guyana, and now Trinidad. They desperately need true surfaces so their batters can hit through the line of the ball and their pacers can give India the hurry up. It is a home from home for Virat Kohli's men.
The home team's struggles were once again epitomised by Chris Gayle. Stale from his slowest ODI score, Gayle threatened to beat his record with 11 from 24. He may as well just try to tee off from ball one all the good he is doing.
At the innings break, those uninitiated to the wicket would have reckoned West Indies were in the game after India posted 279. Sheldon Cottrell and Carlos Brathwaite were excellent. But the secret is out. Before we had speculated that if West Indies could muster 250 or so then they'd be worth a tasty wager defending. The market will be wiser.
Virat Kohli produced a masterclass of timing and patience in shepherding India's excellent total. He notched 120 from 125 balls and although not spectacular it was one of his finest, not least because he admitted to being exhausted.
The ears prick up at such an admission. Could Kohli be rested at some stage during the series? Presumably when it is in the bag. India would have been heartened by runs from Shreays Iyer, who has booked himself in for an extended run.
There were two big wickets for Kuldeep Yadav, who is getting his confidence back. That means Yuz Chahal will have to sit on the sidelines because Ravi Jadeja is still in favour because of his World Cup semi-final performance.
Bhuv Kumar led the pace attack with four wickets. To strengthen, they could bring in Mohammad Shami who would be dangerous on such a wicket.
Another stodgy track
There have now been nine completed ODI at the Queen's Park Oval since 2010. The first-innings scores (most recent first, 1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second) read: 279-1/310-1/199-nr (39 overs)/201-2/119-1(29 overs)/219-1/311-1/240-1/214-2/252/2. India busted the first-innings average (full 50 overs only) by almost 50 runs. Impressive.
You will spot the toss bias. West Indies' only hope, surely, is to try to scramble to that average of around 230 and hope they can get a panic on in the India dressing room with the wicket getting slower and lower as the match progresses.
Showers are forecast but nothing heavy enough to force a no result. It won't help the runmakers, though.
Windies have to bat first
The toss, then, is key to whether we're going to have a bet on the match odds. As it stands, there's no fun at either price of [3.60] West Indies and [1.34] India. The Windies will take a hit on odds if the flip goes their way.
It's still a gamble if it does. Perhaps not quite in line with the odds. West Indies would have to be canny in the field defending. There's precious little evidence they are capable of that. Roston Chase, the spinner, would need to overperform, for example.
If you're after an interest, keep the toss on your side and try a trade on the home team. Fingers crossed.
Lewis in form
Evin Lewis seems to be having few troubles with slow wickets, which is impressive. A hitter, Lewis needs the ball coming on so he can play his shots. On Sunday in game two he managed 65 with an excellent strike rate of 81. In the first ODI in Providence (washed out) he had made an unbeaten 40 from 36. It puts Gayle's go-slow in a poor light indeed. Lewis is 4/1 third favourite with Sportsbook for top Windies bat. Gayle is 10/3. He needs to try to put his foot down. What is the point of him otherwise? To rotate the strike? (That's a joke, by the way, considering he can't run).
Kohli has strengthened his favourite status and Sportsbook have shortened him to 2/1 for top India bat. Rohit Sharma is 13/5. In truth, it's between these two and their dominance in the market explains why Iyer is so big at 8s. It looks toppy but the race could be run by the time he gets in at No 5. Rish Pant is 11/2 and Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit's opening partner, 9/2.