Match 18 – 7:30pm local time on Friday, March 18, 2016 at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
$2.15 at WilliamHill.com
ICC ranking: 7th
$1.75 at Luxbet.com
ICC ranking: 4th
ENGLAND’S 2016 ICC World Twenty20 campaign appeared to be off to a flying start when Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan carted the West Indies for nine sixes at Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday night.
Then Chris Gayle happened.
Smashing 11 maximums of his own, the Jamaican super-slogger brought up his century in 43 balls as the West Indies chased down 182 with two overs to spare.
England’s Irish-born captain felt his bowlers and batsmen alike fell short of the mark, but admitted there was little to be done against a rampaging Gayle.
“We could have been better. Our plans were pretty good, our execution was alright,” Morgan told the press after the match.
“We bowled at about 80 or 90 per cent. I don’t think it was outstanding but I certainly think we bowled with a bit of aggression.
“There were a number of plans… but he [Gayle] has a huge ability to take down any one of our bowlers in one over.
There were positives even in defeat for Morgan and company, however, as their aggressive, almost naive manner of play against the Windies marked a vast improvement on the stale fare they served up at last year’s 50-over Cricket World Cup.
Also looking to improve on their record at major tournaments are South Africa, who have yet to reach a final in either of the ICC’s flagship limited-overs competitions.
The Proteas have endured a mixed preparation for India 2016, losing 2-1 in a home T20 series to Australia prior to arriving in the subcontinent.
That tourney was perhaps most notable for the indifferent displays of one AB de Villiers, who looked as though he was struggling to adjust to his new role at the top of the batting order.
But batting stocks are hardly an issue for South Africa, as the likes of Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Rilee Rossouw, David Miller, JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien complete one of the strongest hitting rosters in the tournament.
In Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn they also boast two of the more incisive seamers going around, while the spin duo of Duminy and Imran Tahir has proven highly effective at times in Twenty20 cricket.
AB de Villiers betting markets
For all the abundance of talent in South Africa’s squad, their chances at the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup could well hinge on one man.
But where will he bat?
Having opened the innings with mixed results in back-to-back T20 series against England and Australia, the one they call ‘Superman’ reverted to the middle order for the recent warm-up game against the Mumbai Cricket Association XI.
He duly smashed an unbeaten 52 at a strike rate of 226.
Given his imperious record at four and five, and Amla’s rather good touch of late, the AB experiment may well be shelved already.
It doesn’t really matter, though, as South Africa’s Test and ODI captain will be a threat no matter when he comes to the crease.
He showed that frequently when playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL last year, and at the 2015 World Cup.
Most online bookmakers are now tipping Amla and de Kock to open, so de Villiers is offering a fraction more value than he might have done.
Top South Africa batsman – $4.20 (Sportsbet)
Top match batsman – $6 (Luxbet)
South Africa to win/de Villiers top score – $6.50 (Sportsbet)
Man of the match – $8.50 (Bet365)
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