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West Indies vs England ODI series is turning out to be an absolute run fest. After 360 was chased down by England with ease in the first ODI, the fourth ODI saw the West Indies come close to chasing down 418.
A flat batting pitch at Grenada made like very difficult for the bowlers but some balance should be restored at St.Lucia. The Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in Gros Islet, St. Lucia is one of the faster bowling surfaces in the Caribbean and fast bowlers on both sides should be able to extract some life from it.
England leads the series 2-1 with only one match to go. There is everything to play for as the West Indies can draw this series while England can win the series outright and continue its domination in ODI cricket.
The West Indies must be thrilled at having Chris Gayle in the kind of form he is showing. He is a world beater and does not seem to have lost any of his power hitting abilities. He smashed 14 sixes in his previous inning and ended with a score of 162 from 97 deliveries.
His fitness is perhaps the only concern and we think he may be rested for the last match keeping in mind the upcoming ICC World Cup 2019.
Chris Gayle has been leading the West Indies batting lineup with aplomb and is covering up for the deficiencies of a few of their other batsmen. John Campbell has found much tougher in the ODI format than he did in the test matches.
Shai Hope has also had a quiet series while batting at the pivotal number three position.
Runs from Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer gives a lot of strength to the middle order but Jason Holder batting at number 6 seems a bit too high. The West Indies must give Nicholas Pooran another go at number 6 or maybe even have him open the batting if Gayle is rested.
Andre Russell did not play the last match despite being a part of the squad. Now that Carlos Brathwaite has scored some runs in the previous game, fitting him may be a bit difficult too. He is, however, such a match-winner that he must play if he is fit too, no matter who has to miss out instead.
The West Indies can actually afford to swap out one of their spinners in the side for Russell. Bishoo and Nurse have been quite disappointing in the series. They have not been able to take wickets or keep the runs down.
Ashley Nurse at least adds something with the bat.
The West Indies has improved a lot in the last few months but we still think they could be much better with a few selection tweaks. The return of the senior players before the ICC World Cup 2019 is a huge boost and if only Sunil Narine could be persuaded to make a comeback, the side’s balance would be ideal.
Chris Gayle, John Campbell, Shai Hope, Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Devendra Bishoo, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas.
It is a mark of the kind of batting depth England has that a player like Jason Roy was not even missed. Alex Hales swapped into his position seamlessly and reeled off an aggressive 82. Jonny Bairstow also ended a poor run of form to score 56 but it was the pair of Morgan and Buttler that really set the stage on fire.
England also played Ben Stokes, something which we did not expect, but now that the series is won he may get a rest once again.
England likes to have a sixth bowling option in the side because that gives them some flexibility to adapt to different conditions. The bowling attack has been changing in almost every match and we could see another reshuffle there as well.
We don’t see any major weaknesses in this side and that is why they are being considered the front runners for the ICC World Cup 2019 title. If anything, England would like to know who its first eleven is and give those players an extended run.
Too much of chopping and changing can affect the morale of the players.
Eoin Morgan has been in scintillating form and has been the most consistent batsman on both sides. We would recommend backing him for the top-scorer in this match as well. England could consider resting Jonny Bairstow and allowing Roy to partner with Hales at the top for this last match.
If the pair of them get going then the ensuing fireworks are going to be spectacular.
Adil Rashid and Mark Wood are also bowlers that we would recommend keeping an eye on. The surface is expected to have some bounce and pace in it which would mean help for an express bowler like Wood. Adil Rashid also likes to bowl on surfaces where his top-spinners bounce a bit more and the ball fizzes off the surface with speed.
AD Hales, Jonny Bairstow, JE Root, Eoin Morgan, BA Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, CR Woakes, AU Rashid, Tom Curran, M Wood.
The side winning the toss is likely to want to field first
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The fifth ODI between the West Indies and England is going to be played at the Darren Sammy International Cricket Stadium, Gros Islet, St. Lucia. There is a 20% chance of rain predicted on match day which is a fairly good forecast for the islands. There is always a chance of rain around but hopefully, we don’t have any interruptions in the match.
The pitch is going to without much grass cover but will have some nice bounce and carry in it. This could make for another very high scoring contest.
England has shown a remarkable ability to score huge totals whether they bat first or while chasing. This makes them a very tough side to beat and we believe the West Indies need some bowler friendly wickets to be consistently successful against them.
The current form of the West Indies is encouraging but their batting order seems to be a bit short on depth.
England is the clear front runner and the team that we think is going to win.
Back England to win.
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