England will look to complete a whitewash of the West Indies when they meet in the final one-day international on Friday.
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A few players have been rested for the Headingley clash but it looks set to be a competitive encounter with the hosts out to make it a clean sweep (England 8/11, Windies 11/10 Match Prices).
Talking your team up before a match or series is never a good idea and West Indies’ skipper Darren Sammy must now be regretting making his side favourites to land the spoils after chastening defeats at the Ageas Bowl and in London.
It is true that they look a stronger side over 50 overs than five days but Sammy seemed to have forgotten that England, under the leadership of Alastair Cook, are now a much tougher nut to crack in the one-day game.
Pakistan were favourites to beat them over the winter but ended up on the wrong end of a 4-0 thumping and there is every possibility that the men from the Caribbean will also leave England without a 50-over success this summer.
There was much talk of how England would cope without Kevin Pietersen and it has been the experienced heads of Cook and Ian Bell that have come to the party with three-figure scores, and it would surprise nobody to see one or both of them score heavily again in Leeds on Friday.
England are a much-improved one-day outfit and finally look capable of mixing it with the big boys with a number of fringe players pushing for places in the starting XI.
And there will be changes for the third ODI with Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann rested and Stuart Meaker, James Tredwell and, probably, Chris Woakes coming into the side.
While the trio do not have the experience of their illustrious compatriots, they are all excellent players who would probably get into a lot of international one-day sides around the world.
England have been criticised for not playing a full-strength side but National Selector Geoff Miller insists it is necessary to rest his top stars in order to keep them fresh, as he looks to build a side capable of winning the 2015 World Cup (England 6/1 World Cup Outright).
The same nonsense was written about Andrew Strauss when he opted to miss the tour of Bangladesh in early 2010 to recharge his batteries and history proved the Middlesex man’s decision to be correct as he led England to Ashes glory the following winter.
England look to have a strong batting line up and the ease in which they chased down the Windies’ total last time out proved that their confidence is high.
Cook is the right man to lead them and the selectors must be applauded for bringing back Bell, who has done the business in both games.
The West Indies will be desperate to end the series on a positive note and prove that they can compete in the one-day game and they certainly appear to have the firepower to be a force over 50 overs.
Chris Gayle’s return is a huge boost and he proved just how valuable he is to the side with five mammoth sixes in an innings of 53 at the Oval.
But his dismissal saw England jump all over the visitors and the run-rate plummeted alarmingly as the reality that the incoming players were not in his class set in.
Dwayne Bravo’s excellent innings gave them a competitive total but it was ultimately way short of a winning score and it will be Gayle that they look to once again in Yorkshire to get them off to a flyer.
With Kieron Pollard in the side there is any number of players capable of hitting the ball out of the park but the England skipper proved that there is more than one way to skin a cat with his measured innings in the capital.
The Windies need a player like Cook to cement the innings at the top of the order to set a platform for the big-hitters to up the rate as the innings progresses.
Marlon Samuels should be that man but his one-day record is fairly ordinary with an average of less than 30.
They also looked light in the bowling department at the Oval, with too many part-time bowlers in the side who were unable to pressurise the England batsmen, and the selectors might look to add another pace bowler to the ranks for the series finale.
It is probably fair to say that these two sides are closer than the first two results suggest and if they bat first and Gayle manages to bat for 30 overs then they will score in excess of 300 to set England a challenging run-chase.
One-day bowling is all about building pressure and, while Cook’s men have been able to thwart the majority of the Windies’ batsmen, England have been able to play with freedom.
This one should be closer than the first two but, while cricket is not a one-man game, if Gayle fails then it is unlikely that the home crowd will notice the changes that have been made to England’s personnel.