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Cricket World Cup Day 9: Top order must fire for West Indies

| 23.02.2015

The West Indies have turned in two polar-opposite performances in this World Cup, but one thing has remained the same throughout their Jekyll-and-Hyde existence so far; their top order has let them down.

In the defeat to Ireland that made Pool B the one to watch in the tournament’s opening phase, Chris Gayle put on 30 runs with Dwayne Smith before the latter lofted a catch to the long-on boundary in the eighth over.

The side’s form was flipped on its head when they faced Pakistan. A 150-run victory was earned with a host of confidence-building contributions, but not from the openers. They managed to fare worse than their previous effort, thanks to Gayle’s dismissal in the fifth over of the match with the score on 17.

Eventually the pair must make their presence felt, otherwise one or both will be carrying drinks to the middle rather than their bats.

Of the two it is likely Gayle, the true superstar in the West Indies lineup, will recover his touch quicker. He is 5/6 to score over 34.5 runs against Zimbabwe in the side’s next World Cup outing, which he has managed once in his last eight knocks (including warm-up games).

11/8 says he makes a 50, while the 13/8 about his opening partner achieving the same should be swerved like an unexpected rabbit in the road.

Smith is a veteran of 101 ODIs. He has never made a century and has an eye-watering average of just 18.85.

Considering the pair’s troubles of late, backing Zimbabwe to have the higher opening stand with the helping hand of a 17.5-run headstart at 5/6 looks like a fine bet.

The match-betting market makes Jason Holder’s side the 1/4 favourites, with Zimbabwe not entirely ruled out at 3/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.