The English series against the West Indies has turned out to be far more competitive than people would have guessed and the ODI’s are expected to be no different. The West Indies will be strengthened by the return of their senior players like Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels as they try and seek out an improbable direct qualification into the 2019 World Cup. England will enter the series as favorites but will know better than take the West Indies for granted.
The Champions Trophy held in England just a few months again was supposed to England’s coming of age in the ODI format. They had transformed the team in 2015 that seemed a generation behind every other team in this game to leaders of the format.
This is why it was such a disappointment when they lost in the semi-finals in conditions that Eoin Morgan labeled as poor for the home team. Now with the World Cup approaching, England will be keen to re-embark on their journey towards their first major ODI title.
The heart of England’s renaissance in this format has been their batting. Alex Hales and Jason Roy go hard at the top followed by Root, Morgan, Stokes, Buttler, and Ali. It’s a formidable lineup that will test the West Indies bowling.
There is the likelihood of Jonny Bairstow opening the batting with Alex Hales instead of Jason Roy as he had in the semi-final of the Champions Trophy, a move that would be fair but not necessarily the best one keeping in mind England’s long-term ambitions.
The depth and power hitting of this England side is phenomenal. Joe Root continues to churn out runs at every opportunity while Eoin Morgan seems to save his best for this format as well. Scores of over 300 have become commonplace for this side and we would expect nothing less in this game either.
The bowling will be led by Adil Rashid, who caused quite a few problems for the West Indians in the one-off T20, Liam Plunkett, Jake Ball and possible Chris Woakes. The presence of Woakes would also mean that a capable all-rounder comes in at number 8.
This is an England side that is going to be tough to beat.
The West Indies fought admirably in the test series and won easily in the only T20 match. Both the teams had no players in common but the ODI team, fittingly, has a mix of both. Shai Hope returns to the lineup as do Chris Gayle and Evan Lewis, the chief destroyers at Chester Le Street.
A lot of attention will be placed on Gayle’s shoulders, a situation in which he thrives. He has said that he wants to play till the 2019 World Cup and that should be music to the West Indians fans. We are most excited to see Evin Lewis and how he translates the form he has been carrying with him in T20 cricket.
Up until now, the 50 over game has been a mystery for Lewis but that could change very quickly. With Marlon Samuels, The Hope brothers, Rovman Powell, Jason Holder and Jason Mohammad, this West Indian team bats very deep too.
Samuels will be crucial in this longer format along with Shai Hope in the middle while Rovman Powell showed a couple of glimpses why he is being hailed as the next Andre Russell.
It is their bowling which will lack some bite due to the absence of Sunil Narine from the lineup.
Jerome Taylor, Kesrick Williams, Alzarri Joseph and Jason Holder can become one-dimensional very quickly while the spin of Jason Mohammad is not going to keep any batsmen up at night.
The West Indian team will need a lot of runs on the board to assist their bowlers otherwise England could run riot.
The conditions at Old Trafford are expected to be excellent for batting. The current forecast is for clear skies and sun throughout the day, something the West Indies will love to see. This is going to be a high-scoring match where big hitter from both teams will have an opportunity to really capitalize.
We are backing an upset win by the West Indies early o, something that will help light up the series.
West Indies to win.