SHAI HOPE did these pages a favour when his stunning, match-winning hundred landed top West Indies batsman bets in the first ODI on Sunday – and the home captain looks well worth sticking with on Wednesday.
The same principles that underpinned the bet in the series opener remain, with Hope very much the class act in this West Indies batting line-up, and also the experienced hand whom his teammates bat around. Perfect top batsman material.
Hope played his role perfectly on Sunday, working the ball around beautifully as his brought up his half-century in 51 balls, before exploding in the last 10 overs to finish unbeaten on 109 from only 83 deliveries.
Hope passed 5,000 ODI runs in that innings, with his average having also swelled to 51.52. He now has 16 hundreds and 24 fifties in his 119-match ODI career.
None of his teammates can boast anything like the same credentials and with his current form confirmed in no uncertain terms, the 11/4 generally available looks very fair.
Having also backed Zak Crawley in the England market on Sunday, I was left frustrated when he was run out on 48, top scoring at the time and apparently set to post a big score.
There could be an inclination to row in again. However, I wasn’t convinced by his play against spin in that innings, and the consistently low bounce we saw in Antigua didn’t suit his game, either.
With the same ground hosting the second match, I’m cool on Crawley this time.
Instead, conditions should prove ideal for BEN DUCKETT who is a terrific player of spin who plays the reverse sweep and conventional sweep well.
Duckett’s introduction to international cricket came in the subcontinent, as did his reincarnation in Pakistan last winter, such is his reputation on such surfaces.
At the time, Duckett was keen to showcase that there was more to his game than playing spin well on slow, low pitches, and he went some way to dispelling that theory in last summer’s Ashes against Australia. But that doesn’t take away his obvious strengths in similar conditions to what we saw here on Sunday.
Batting at number four, Duckett made a breezy 20 in the first match, looking typically comfortable, and he looks a better fit to me on this ground than Crawley, or Phil Salt and Will Jacks for that matter.
Harry Brook, top scorer on Sunday, rates the obvious danger again, but he’s further down the line-up at number five, and the 7/1 on offer for Duckett with Sky Bet is too big to ignore.
Preview published at 2310 GMT on 04/12/23
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