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Cricket news - Stakes high for England after Grenada washout
The damp squib on Monday in Grenada changes little for either of these sides in terms of the series scoreline, which remains at 1-1. However, the washout does mean they have less margin for error in the remaining two matches, the first of which is also in Grenada on Wednesday. The stakes, for both teams, have certainly gone up.
For England, the rain means they are now just one slip-up away from failing to win a series against the ninth-ranked team in the world. Even a drawn series against West Indies, let alone a loss, would be a dent to their confidence with the World Cup so close, which raises the temperature for the fourth ODI. The home side, on the other hand, have to win just one more match to mirror their Test exploits and emerge from a series against England with unexpected plaudits ringing in their ears.
The increased pressure will be no bad thing for England, though. They are now in a scrap and will be able to test their mettle under extra scrutiny which is what they will have to deal with in the summer, at home and as one of the favourites in the. The way this series has turned out is far better preparation for the World Cup than an easy victory (which looked on the cards after game one) would have been. That is, of course, if England emerge victorious from the series. Otherwise, they will end up with egg on their faces.
The washout on Monday delayed a second examination of England's batsmen by Sheldon Cottrell, the left-armer who took five wickets in West Indies' brilliant victory in Barbados to level the series in the second ODI. The match-up in Grenada on Wednesday will be intriguing not just in terms of the outcome of the series, but also the pointers it gives towards the World Cup. England have had an issue with left-arm seamers since the start of 2017 - averaging 25 against them compared to 40 against right-armers - and they need to put that right.
West Indies named an unchanged team for the match that never was in Grenada, a welcome act of consistency by a selection panel that has a history of acting bizarrely. The decision to leave out Cottrell for the first match in favour of Carlos Brathwaite, not even selected in the original squad, still beggars belief, for example. However, they might contemplate a change with the star quality of Andre Russell included in their party for the last two matches in place of the injured Kemar Roach.
Although Russell has not played ODI cricket since last July and is battling a longstanding knee issue which will curtail his bowling, he will add, with a career strike rate of 130, plenty of aggression to a batting order that still needs added firepower to complement the likes of Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmeyer. Russell's inclusion is a timely one indeed ahead of the World Cup.
When: Wednesday, February 27 at 9.30am Local Time, 1.30pm GMT.
Where: St George's, Grenada.
What to expect: The pitch, which has proven good for batting in the past, and the short straight boundaries suggest that there could be plenty of runs on offer for the batsmen but the recent rain may mean there is some moisture in the pitch for the faster men to exploit early on. Importantly, the forecast is for a dry day.
The only real decision for the home side is whether they pick Russell and if they do, who he comes in for. Carlos Brathwaite looks the most vulnerable but West Indies will have to consider the balance of the side given Russell is unlikely to be able to contribute much with the ball. Bringing him in for an all-rounder would leave Jason Holder with just five frontline bowlers which is a risk against this England batting line-up.
Probable XI: Chris Gayle, John Campbell, Shai Hope, Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Andre Russell, Ashley Nurse, Devendra Bishoo, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas
Despite the rain, we know from the teamsheet that England brought back Chris Woakes for Tom Curran for the third ODI after Woakes was rested for the second match in Barbados as he manages his return from a knee injury. The Warwickshire all-rounder is likely to keep his place and Ben Stokes, who was set to miss out on Monday because of a rolled ankle, will probably come back in to the side too, in place of batsman Alex Hales.
Probable XI: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood
What they said?
"I know the right West Indies combination with a fully focused side can beat anyone on their day" - Bayliss.
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