Ditch Sharma for India’s bowling heartbeat in the Third Test

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The frazzled collective brain of the English team, fresh from a five-day break likely spent in a dark room with a wet flannel over their foreheads, arrive in Southampton knowing three games remain to save the series with India.

Having suffered death by bouncer at Lord’s to lose the second Test, Alastair Cook’s men must find a resolve that’s been missing since the winter to get themselves back into contention. While they search for it, here’s the best three bets for the match:

Ian Bell top England 1st innings runscorer – 4/1

Senior players have departed the English side like the guestlist of an accountant’s retirement party. The ones that remain sit slumped in the corner of the festivities asleep, while the younger attendees work their magic on the dance floor.

Like all good parties though, England need the experienced men to take control and Bell can be most trusted to do so.

The Warwickshire batsman scored a ton in the only previous Test to be played at the Rose Bowl and has an average of 61.16 in all first-class appearances at the ground.

India to win – 2/1

Having broken their three-year away Test duck, there’s only one team worth looking at for the win on the south coast, especially as Ladbrokes still rate the tourists as the outsiders.

There could be a school of thought that England will fight back from this latest embarrassment, but having shown a distinct lack of fight since the end of the last Test-match summer, why would it suddenly appear now?

Bhuvneshwar Kumar top India 1st innings wicket taker – 3/1

Ishant Sharma may have taken the limelight in being the latest bowler to don the Grim Reaper outfit and haunt English batsmen, but it’s Kumar who has been setting the tone for India with the ball.

The 24-year-old has returned first-dig figures of 5-82 and 6-82 in the last two Test matches and can certainly be relied upon to lead the way again at the Rose Bowl.

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.