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ICC WT20 semi-final preview: India favourites, but Gayle always a danger

West Indian players celebrate the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane
Who will win when India take on West Indies?
©REUTERS / Action Images
 

The second ICC World T20 2016 semi-final pits hosts and favourites India against 2012 champions West Indies in a fascinating match-up to decide who will play England in Sunday's final.

The game also sees the world's top-ranked batsman in India's Virat Kohli taking on the world's top-ranked bowler in West Indian leg-spinner Samuel Badree.

And although India are the favourites - justifiably so - West Indies have the players, the skill and the experience to cause something of an upset.

Not least Chris Gayle, who smacked a brilliant hundred against England in his opening game. However, he has since been somewhat subdued, falling cheaply against South Africa, not batting due to injury against Sri Lanka and not playing against Afghanistan.

Perhaps he is due a score and while India and West Indies fans need no excuse to tune in, for the rest of us, betting on this match might add a bit of excitement.

You will see that the bookmakers think it will be a close match, like most of the games in this tournament have been. There is little to choose between the top sides at this level and stage of the competition.

Although India are at home, many of the West Indian players have a huge amount of experience playing in the Indian Premier League, and we have already seen how the Indian fans have warmed to the likes of Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy.

For India, Virat Kohli has been their main man, scoring more runs on his own than Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina so far. West Indies will be desperate to see him off early to give themselves a chance.

And while Gayle is an obvious danger man for the men from the Caribbean, Andre Fletcher and Marlon Samuels have provided good support and the bowling attack is looking strong - expect spinners Badree and Sulieman Benn to give India plenty to think about.

Looking at form, India have the edge, winning three straight games to qualify after an opening loss to New Zealand. On the other hand, West Indies lost their final game against Afghanistan, although they had already qualified before the match began. They have been quick to stress that the defeat won't affect them too much.

But like any Twenty20 - just look at yesterday's first semi-final and Jason Roy's batting as an example - one great performance from one player can be enough to turn the game.

If you want to have a bet, one tactic is to identify who you think will be the star man on the day and follow your instinct, whether in this match you think that is likely to be Gayle, Kohli, Badree, Dhoni or somebody else.

Our prediction: India to win, but only if Gayle doesn't fire.

 

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