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March 19, 2009
Match factsFriday March 20
Big pictureAnother format and another chance for England to register their first international win of the winter? Don't hold your breath. Barring their series win against South Africa last summer they haven't been much good at one-day cricket for a long time and are facing a West Indies side full of energy and confidence. England don't have a settled opening pair or a settled bowling attack and are forever experimenting to try and find a combination that works. It all fell flat in the Twenty20 as they were comprehensively thumped and the guessing game is set to continue.
West Indies have far fewer issues to worry about and are hoping to be boosted by the return of Chris Gayle after his hamstring injury. During their struggles in recent years the 50-over variety has provided the occasional moment of success as their deficiencies weren't exposed in the shorter format. Their top order can match any for destructive qualities, while Dwayne Bravo's availability boosts all departments. The collection of useful spinners and medium pacers are ideally suited to the slow surfaces that are now common and the fielding continues to show marked improvement. It hasn't been said very often of late, but West Indies start as clear favourites.
Form guide (most recent first)
West Indies LNLWN
Watch out for …
Fidel Edwards has been fast, hostile and fairly unlucky all tour. He could have had a bag of wickets in the Test series but dropped catches cost him and this one-day series provides the chance to earn some reward. He doesn't really bowl much differently in the shorter format, and is never afraid to mix up bouncers with yorkers, and although his extra pace can make scoring easy he offers an important strike option for Gayle.
England don't have anyone with the pace to match, but Stuart Broad has developed impressively during the tour. He enjoyed more success with the white ball in the early days of his international career, which bodes well for the matches ahead as he will share the new-ball duties with James Anderson. He is showing more variety, too, developing slower-balls and cutters to suit the different surfaces, and is quickly becoming Andrew Strauss's go-to man.
Strauss has declared himself fit after a minor hamstring problem but Andrew Flintoff hasn't yet recovered from his hip injury and continues to miss out. England won't reveal their side until the toss, but it seems likely that Steven Davies will get another chance to open alongside Ravi Bopara. West Indies will give Gayle a last-minute fitness test although he is hopeful of being ready, while it is a surprise that Sulieman Benn has been dropped after his superb spell in the Twenty20. Offspinner Nikita Miller has been recalled to the squad after a strong domestic season
West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Devon Smith, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 4 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Lendl Simmons, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 9 Darren Sammy, 10 Jerome Taylor, 11 Fidel Edwards
England (possible) 1 Ravi Bopara, 2 Steven Davies (wk), 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Owais Shah, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Andrew Strauss (capt), 7 Dimitri Mascarenhas, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Gareth Batty, 10 Amjad Khan, 11 James Anderson
Pitch and conditionsThe Providence Stadium in Guyana has replicated the slow, low pitches of the old Bourda ground so the quick bowlers shouldn't expect too much encouragement. It will be a match for the medium pacers and spinners, which could also make scoring hard work. As ever on the South American mainland the weather will play a part with a chance of rain pretty much at any time.
Stats & Trivia
"I had a little bit of a hamstring niggle but I've been working hard with the medical staff and I feel absolutely 100% fine."
Strauss is confident about his fitness after a minor hamstring problem
"I'm really looking forward to the five matches, it's going to be competitive and I'm looking forward to the challenge ahead."
Bravo is pleased to be back after injury
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