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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Understudy Billings is growing in confidence

Short-pitched bowling troubled Kraigg Brathwaite

Sam Billings clips the ball through the leg side in the first ODI
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Second ODI
Sky Sports 2, 1.30pm Sunday

England's 45-run victory over the West Indies on Friday gave them a 43-42 lead in the ODI head-to-head record but that is no reflection of the current gulf between the teams.

Long-running disputes between the West Indies Cricket Board and the Caribbean’s star players have severely weakened the hosts.

While their inexperienced side was sliding to defeat in Antigua, Darren Sammy was bowling to fellow exiles Chris Gayle and Kieron Polland in a Pakistan Super League match in Dubai.

England are a little short of full strength, with opener Alex Hales doubtful and David Willey and Jake Ball sidelined but they demonstrated their strength in depth in the first ODI.

A sluggish start saw them lose the big wickets of Jason Roy and Joe Root early on but skipper Eoin Morgan read the situation nicely after being dropped at slip when he was on four.

Morgan scored 22 runs from the first 46 balls he faced but ended up with 107 off 116 after good support from Sam Billings (52) and Ben Stokes (55).

Billings, who appears likely to deputise for Hales at the top of the order again, grew in confidence after a stuttering start to his innings and his seven boundaries included a couple of trademark reverse sweeps.

The inventive Kent batsman has made solid contributions in his three one-day knocks as an opener, scoring 62 in tough conditions against Bangladesh in Chittagong and 35 against India in Kolkata before Friday’s fifty. Hills go 7-4 that Billings chalks up another half-century and that is worth a small bet.

England are 1-3 to take a 2-0 lead in the three-match series and bet365 make them 4-6 to win by at least five wickets or 21 runs on the handicap market. The Windies are 11-10 receiving a 4.5-wicket or 20.5-run start.

Having reduced England to 29-2, the home side were 36-0 before their run-chase was derailed by the loss of three wickets for three runs.

Kraigg Brathwaite was the third batsman dismissed, caught at mid-on off Chris Woakes after an unconvincing shot, and the opener’s runs line of 33.5 with Paddy Power looks too high.

Brathwaite has nailed down a place in the Test side but he has played only eight ODIs and is yet to prove his worth in 50-over cricket.

He has reached 40 only once in those eight games – a pedestrian innings of 78 from 117 deliveries against Zimbabwe – and he looked uncomfortable against some short-pitched balls from Steven Finn before falling to Woakes.

Brathwaite has hit only 13 fours in his eight ODIs, so is unlikely to blaze away at the start of the innings, and England’s bowlers usually make early inroads.

S Billings to score a fifty
1pt 7-4 Hills
K Brathwaite to score 33 runs or fewer
3pts 5-6 Paddy Power 

The inventive Kent batsman has made solid contributions in his three one-day knocks as an opener
E.W. Terms
Sky bet