England play West Indies in the first of three ODIs that will form a part of the series. The match will be played on Saturday at Southampton.
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Hosts England ran away to a 2-0 win in the Test match series but West Indies fought hard in patches. Now with the return of Chris Gayle to the squad and with Sunil Narine expected to play a huge role as well, things could even up a little.
West Indies (15/13 at Bwin
) has a strong looking side on paper. Led by the indefatigable Darren Sammy, where West Indies shine is in their all-round department. In Dwayne Bravo they have one who has looked to be in some of his best form recently.
Kieron Pollard can send the ball a long way and his brand of medium pace bowling will get assistance on English tracks too.
Andre Russell and Dwayne Smith can do both, bat and bowl, with aplomb. Smith is coming off a superb 96 against Middlesex in the tour game and has the confidence from his foray in the IPL where he stuck a couple of good knocks. Russell is more of a bowler who can hit the ball a fair way and will be a huge asset at the number seven or eight.
Marlon Samuels is their in-form batsman and should bat in the middle-order, probably after the centurion from that tour game, Darren Bravo. Gayle and Lendl Simmons should open the innings, with Ravi Rampaul expected to lead the bowling attack.
England (5/6 at William Hill
) will miss their charismatic aggressor Kevin Pietersen, who recently retired from ODI cricket. In his place, the management has decided to rope in Ian Bell as their opening batsman, who will partner captain Alastair Cook.
Eoin Morgan’s recent form merits in domestic cricket him a place in the 11, while Ravi Bopara and Jonathon Trott will both bat in the middle order. Craig Kieswetter will keep wickets but it will be interesting to see where he bats, having opened the innings in the past.
The fit-again James Anderson will partner Stuart Broad with the new ball, while Tim Bresnan deserves a go as the third speedster in the line-up. Graeme Swann and all-rounder Samit Patel should complete the bowling line-up.
The last time these two sides met in an ODI was in the World Cup 2011. Russell had picked up four wickets and with no Englishman scoring a half-century, they were restricted to 243. In reply, James Tredwell got four wickets of his own and despite Russell’s 46-ball 49, West Indies were bowled out for 225.
The last bilateral series between the two was held in 2009 in England, which the hosts won 2-0.
The England v West Indies 1st ODI begins at 10.45 am local time on June 16.